What can Hannah Arendt’s poems teach us about her life and work? In this talk Samantha Rose Hill will discuss Hannah Arendt’s archive, conception of thinking, and what it means to read Arendt’s poems as an alternative biographical text.

Hannah Arendt was a poetic thinker without being a poet. Although she never tried to publish her poems to our knowledge, Arendt left her poems to be found among her papers in the archive. The poems span 38 years stretching between 1923 and 1961. Her first biographer Elizabeth Young-Bruehl wrote that they were her most private life, recording her love affair with Martin Heidegger, return to Germany after the war, loss of loved ones and friends. For Arendt, the language of German poetry was what remained after the war. In the end, she found it was poems that could give voice to experience. She argued, it is the poets who are charged with keeping watch over the storehouse of memory, and lending a sense of durability to this none too beautiful world of ours.

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