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Lafayette College’s celebration of National Poetry Month will feature readings by students, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Yusef Komunyakaa, Welsh physician-poet Dannie Abse, and Pennsylvania poets Beth Seetch and Jan Selving.

All events, sponsored by the department of English and the American Studies program, are free and open to the public.

Accomplished poet Lee Upton, professor of English and the first faculty member at Lafayette to hold the title writer-in-residence, said, “The diverse activities of National Poetry Month on campus certainly demonstrate Lafayette’s commitment to promoting imaginative writing among its students. The caliber and variety of writers that we bring in regularly have proved fruitful for student writing.”

Upton, winner of the Pushcart Prize, is the author of four volumes of poetry and three books of criticism. Her most recent book of poetry, Civilian Histories, forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press, was selected as a winner in the Georgia Contemporary Poetry Series Competition, as was her third book of poetry, Approximate Darling (1996). Her second book of poetry, No Mercy (1989), was a winner in the National Poetry Series.

Seetch is a lecturer in English at Lafayette and coordinator of the College Writing Program. Selving is an instructor at East Stroudsburg University.

Inaugurated just four years ago by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month has become an established part of America’s cultural life, bringing together publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools, and poets to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.

Lafayette events are sponsored by the department of English and the American Studies program. For information, call Upton, 610-330-5250. Here is the complete schedule:

Throughout April – Skillman Library will exhibit broadsides of 48 poems published by the British Poem of the Month Club between 1970 and 1977. The club promoted modern poetry by publishing the best modern poets, signed by the author and specially printed on fine paper. Contributing poets included W.H. Auden, Philip Larkin, John Betjeman, Stevie Smith, Robert Graves, Thom Gunn, Anthony Thwaite, Gavin Ewart, and Stephen Spender, among many others.

Saturday, April 10 — Students will experience the inaugural People’s Poetry Gathering, “a Woodstock for words in Lower Manhattan,” with Beth Seetch, lecturer in English and coordinator of the College Writing Program, and Lee Upton, professor of English and writer-in-residence. The event is sponsored by City Lore of New York City, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thursday, April 15 – MacKnight Black Poetry Reading, 8 p.m., Williams Center for the Arts. Yusef Komunyakaa, recipient of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his collection Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, will read his work, as will the winners this year’s MacKnight Black Poetry Competition, for which Komunyakaa served as guest judge. Christian Rose ’99 of Binghamton, N.Y., took top prize. Natalie Papailiou ’99 of Middletown, N.J., Scott Rosen ’99 of West Milford, N.J., and Mark Sokoloff ’99 of Eastchester, N.Y., earned honorable mention. The competition is named for MacKnight Black, a 1916 graduate of Lafayette, who at the time of his death in 1931 was one of America’s most significant poets.

Tuesday, April 20 – Reading by Dannie Abse, Welsh physician-poet, 4:10 p.m., Kirby Hall of Civil Rights auditorium. Best known for his poetry, the 76-year old Abse is also a playwright, essayist, and novelist whose characteristically Welsh voice and sensibility has garnered critical acclaim.

Wednesday, April 28 – “It’s-The-End-of-the-Millennium-We’re-All-Going-to-Die Poetry Reading,” noon, Marlo Room, Farinon College Center. Creative writing students will read their works, including John (Jay) Arnold ’99 of Hockessin, Del.; Lia Caiazzo ’99 of Rye Brook, N.Y.; John Durante ’00 of Franklin Lakes, N.J.; Donald Gartland ’00 of Ocean City, N.J.; Mary Ellen Graziani ’99 of Rockville Centre, N.Y.; Amy Mahon ’00 of Wildwood Crest, N.J.; Jocelyn Mattutini ’00 of White Plains, N.Y.; Meredith Miller ’00 of Katonah, N.Y.; Scott Rosen ’99 of West Milford, N.J.; Ryan Schumann ’99 of Millington, N.J.; Mark Sokoloff ’99 of Eastchester N.Y.; Nicole Stodard ’99 of Gambrills Md.; Brian Want ’00 of Hazleton, Pa.; and Acelya Yonac ’01 of Milan, Italy. An open-mike reading follows. Schumann will be master of ceremonies.

Thursday, April 29 — Jean Corrie Poetry Reading and Ice Cream Social, 4:10 p.m., Faculty Dining Room, Marquis Hall. Winners and judges of the annual Jean Corrie Poetry Competition, open to first-year students, sophomores, and juniors, will read their work. For the second straight year, Stephen Chiger ’01 of Westfield, N.J., took top prize. Jorge Izquierdo ’02 of Riverside, Conn., and Andrew Platt ’01 of West Chester, Pa. earned honorable mention. The judges are Beth Seetch, lecturer in English and coordinator of the College Writing program, and Jan Selving, a poet and instructor at East Stroudsburg University.

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