Two people who know a thing or two about creativity will discuss that topic tonight in Campbell Hall.
Writer Pico Iyer and musician Meredith Monk will speak in Campbell at 8 p.m. Admission will be $10 for the general public and $8 for students. Iyer is the author of eight books, primarily on travel, and has written travel stories for Time magazine. In 1995 the Utne Reader magazine named Iyer one of the 100 “writers who could change your life.” Monk has built a career as a composer, singer, dancer, choreographer, and director. She is the recipient of many awards, including the MacArthur Genius Award in 1995 and three OBIE awards in 1971, 1976 and 1985. The meeting between Monk and Iyer is the inaugural event in the Arts & Lectures In Conversation series.
“We’re hoping to have more of these conversation events, where we bring together two very interesting, smart people and have them talk about an interesting topic,” said Roman Baratiak, films and lectures manager of Arts & Lectures.
Tonight’s topic will be “creativity.”
“Creativity is a pretty broad theme, since whenever you have a writer and a dancer and singer together they’ll be talking about creativity,” Iyer said. “I think more specifically, we’ll be talking about the global imagination and the nature of the traveler.”
Iyer said both he and Monk spend a good deal of time away from civilization.
“I spend a lot of my time taking retreats in Catholic monasteries and she spends a lot of her time taking retreats in Buddhist monasteries,” Iyer said. “I think we might spend some time talking about how that affects the creative process, how you can develop your works by going off into silence and turning away from the world.”
Iyer said travel was important for connecting people to the “human essentials.”
“When I’m sitting at home most of my thoughts are about fairly trivial things, like what’s on television or American politics,” Iyer said. “When I travel I’m taken out of those very local concerns into something … fundamental, whether it has to do with war, families trying to make it to the next day, or faith.”
Baratiak said Monk’s work is comparable to that of Philip Glass, a contemporary classical composer who has worked on movie scores, operas and concertos.
Iyer said the main draw of tonight’s speech would be the presence of Monk, whom he said he admired.
“I think she’s one of the completely original and unusual artists around these days. You can’t fit her into any category. It’s not very common that we can hear one of these multidimensional artists talk about what makes them tick and what their vision is,” Iyer said. “For me that’s the big excitement.”
Though the pairing of a writer and an artist from the musical and film world would seem strange, Baratiak disagreed.
“Neither of them are very ordinary,” Baratiak said. “Pico tries to get under the surface of things and understand them in a more mythical, spiritual level. [Monk’s] music tries to do a similar thing.”