January 1, 1970

powerHouse Arena + Penguin Classics present: Letters to a Young Poet with Leigh Stein

The second installment of Powerhouse’s new series with Penguin Classics features renowned poets and essayists Lewis Hyde (The Gift) and Sarah Manguso (The Guardians) in conversation about Rilke’s eternally beloved guide. Leigh Stein (Dispatch from the Future) moderates.



At the start of the twentieth century, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a series of letters to a young officer cadet, advising him on writing, love, sex, suffering and the nature of advice itself. These profound and lyrical messages became LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET, now newly translated by Charlie Louth.

A hugely influential collection for generations of writers and artists of all kinds, LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET has inspired writers, artists and musicians such as J.D. Salinger, Philip Roth, Cy Twombly, Patti Smith, and Lady Gaga. In this new translation, Louth presents a voice that is immediately accessible to modern readers and additionally provides notes, a chronology, an afterword, a translator’s note, and further reading. This Penguin Classics hardcover edition also includes THE LETTER FROM THE YOUNG WORKER. In a new Introduction, Lewis Hyde, author of THE GIFT, a modern classic of creative experience praised by writers including Zadie Smith, Jonathan Lethem, and David Foster Wallace, explores the context in which Rilke’s letters were written and how the author embraced his isolation as a creative force.

With honesty, elegance, and a deep understanding of the loneliness that often comes with being an artist, Rilke’s letters are an endless source of inspiration and comfort. Packaged in a slim, beautiful, and foil-stamped hardcover book with printed endpapers including an inscription page, LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET makes the perfect gift for aspiring creative readers at any chapter of life.