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Upcoming Events

Burns Library will be hosting numerous events during the 2023-2024 academic year. Please check back here regularly for information about upcoming events. We invite you to join our mailing list to receive announcements directly. Most events are free and open to the public as well as our Boston College community.  

Directions, parking, and accessibility information are available on our website (but see below for special parking for Red Shoe Night and Dana Gioia events). Researchers who wish to use our reading room should refer to additional information on our research services page.

Red Shoe Night: Celebrating Dominican-American Poet Rhina Espaillat

Thursday, September 28, 5:30pm until …?
O’Neill Library, main floor reading room

An evening extravaganza of poetry, music, and tributes celebrating Dominican-American poet Rhina Espaillat and the donation of her archives to Boston College, featuring: Dana Gioia, Julia Alvarez, Silvio Torres-Saillant, Nancy Kang, Sarah Aponte, Alfred Nicol, John Tavano, Roger Kimball, Riikka Pietiläinen Caffrey, and more … and Rhina!

Rhina P. Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932 and came to the United States as a young girl with her family as exiles from dictatorship, settling in New York City. Following a career as a public school teacher, she returned to writing poetry after attending the first West Chester University Poetry Conference, established in 1995 by New Formalist poets Michael Peich and Dana Gioia.

Author and translator of dozens of award-winning poetry collections, Espaillat is a founding member of the Fresh Meadows Poets and a founding member and former director of the Powow River Poets. A resident of Newburyport since 1990, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Salem State College in 2008, and in 2021, Plough Quarterly established the annual Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award in her honor.

The program will begin at 5:30pm and continue through the evening. Come when you can, leave when you must. Free food and beverages. Books and CDs available for sale and signing. All are welcome. Bring your friends. And put on your red shoes!

Parking information: Point your mapping app to "Commonwealth Avenue Garage." If needed, take a ticket to enter but you will not be charged upon exiting. If the garage is full, continue down Campanella Way to the "Beacon Street Garage." Again, take a ticket to enter but parking should be free due to another special evening event. Once parked, using your mapping app for walking directions to "O'Neill Library." If you park in the Commonwealth Avenue Garage, take the elevator to the roof; upon exiting O'Neill Library is the building on your left. If you park in the Beacon Street Garage, you can walk up the outdoor staircase to get up to the main campus level or use the elevators in Maloney Hall. If you need directional assistance, don't hesitate to ask our friendly students for help! For mobility assistance, please call ahead: 617-831-9288.

Rideshare dropoff/pickup and MBTA directions: Please use the Boston College's main campus address: "140 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA." This will take you to the main campus entrance by the Green Line B MBTA Station. From there, use your mapping app for walking directions to "O'Neill Library."


Dana Gioia: “Poetry and the Catholic Imagination” luncheon talk and reading

Friday, September 29, 12:00pm to 1:30pm
O’Neill Library, main floor reading room

When Dana Gioia's provocative essay "Can Poetry Matter?" was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1991, it received more public response than any other piece in the magazine’s history, sparking a firestorm of debate and discussion over the role of the poet in today’s world. His 2013 essay, “The Catholic Writer Today,” ignited a national conversation about the role of Catholicism in American literature.

Gioia is a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and Poet Laureate of California. He has published six full-length collections of verse, most recently Meet Me at the Lighthouse (2023). His collection 99 Poems: New & Selected (2016) won the Poets’ Prize as the best new book of the year. Interrogations at Noon (2001), was awarded the American Book Award.

Gioia is best known as a central figure in the revival of rhyme, meter, and narrative in contemporary poetry. In recent years, he has emerged as a compelling advocate of Christianity’s continuing importance in contemporary culture.

Lunch will be provided. Books will be available for sale and signing. RSVPs appreciated but not required.

To RSVP, and for parking, accessibility, and more information, please visit:


I SAW IT: From Holocaust Poem to Artist Book

Thursday, October 19, 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Burns Library

Award-winning artist Harriet Bart will discuss her abiding interest in the personal and cultural expression of memory in her mixed-media work.

Bart recently collaborated with Boston College professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies Maxim D. Shrayer on the creation of an artist book based on Shrayer’s translation of I SAW IT (1942), a powerful poem by Jewish-Russian poet and early Holocaust witness Ilya Selvinsky.

Following a presentation by Bart about her work, Shrayer will join Bart in a conversation about making art from agony moderated by Burns Librarian Christian Dupont. Burns Library has acquired a copy of I SAW IT, which will be on display other Holocaust-related works.

I SAW IT was recently featured in a BC News article.

Light refreshments will be served following the program.


Watery Romanticism: Crossing the Irish Sea with Keats

Claire Connolly
2023-2024 Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies

Wednesday, November 1, 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Burns Library

Claire Connolly is Professor of Modern English at University College Cork and the 2023-2024 Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies.

What happens when we put literary concepts and periods to work between and across bodies of water? "Watery Romanticism" offers a new account of Irish culture in the late eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century with a particular focus on the constitutive role of sea crossings. Seas and coasts were part of everyday Irish life in the romantic-era: authors, soldiers, landlords, migrant workers, students and members of parliament moved between our islands and across the empire along with books, letters, wine, food, weapons and cattle.

For the lecture, Connolly will examine one singular case, the crossing between Port Patrick and Donaghadee undertaken by a young John Keats in the summer of 1818 and his subsequent walk to and from Belfast in the months just before he wrote some of his best-known poems. She will draw on the blue, environmental and spatial humanities to analyze Keats’s Irish and Scottish letters and consider the limits imposed upon the creative imagination by the crowded, miserable landscapes of pre-Famine Ireland.

The evening will begin with a wine, beer, and hors d'oeuvres reception at 5:00pm in the Burns Library Irish Room. The lecture will follow at 6:00pm upstairs in the Thompson Room. All are welcome.

Directions, parking, and accessibility information is available on the Burns Library website:

Past Events