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Lafayette College’s celebration of National Poetry Month in April will feature readings by the winners of the annual MacKnight Black and Jean Corrie student poetry competitions; Lafayette writer-in-residence Lee Upton; award-winning poet Campbell McGrath; alumnus Jay Parini ’70, a prolific poet, novelist, and biographer; Tel Aviv University professor Karen Alkalay-Gut; and Phil Memmer and Ruth Setton, judges of the Jean Corrie competition.

All events are free and open to the public. The celebration will begin with a reading by Upton, a professor of English and the first faculty member at Lafayette to hold the title writer-in-residence, at 4:10 p.m., Tuesday, April 11, in room 120 of Skillman Library.

Upton, a winner of the Pushcart Prize for Poetry and the key organizer of the National Poetry Month at Lafayette, will read from and sign copies of Civilian Histories, her fourth volume of poetry, which was recently published by the University of Georgia Press. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Skillman Library.

Civilian Histories was selected as a winner in the Georgia Contemporary Poetry Series Competition, as was Upton’s third book of poetry, Approximate Darling (1996). Her second volume of poetry, No Mercy (1989), was a winner in the National Poetry Series.

Upton’s poems have appeared in dozens of journals and small magazines, including Poetry, American Poetry Review, Yale Review, The New Republic, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Salmagundi, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Denver Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, William and Mary Review, and Pennsylvania Review. She has also published fiction in a number of publications, including Denver Quarterly, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, and Antioch Review, and in the anthology Fiction/86. She is a contributing editor of Denver Quarterly.

Upton has also written three volumes of literary criticism analyzing the work of various modern American poets. The most recent one, The Muse of Abandonment: Origin, Identity, Mastery in Five American Poets (1998), focuses on Charles Wright, Russell Edson, Jean Valentine, James Tate, and Louise Glück. The others are Obsession and Release: Rereading the Poetry of Louise Bogan (1996) and Jean Garrigue: A Poetics of Plenitude (1991). She also has written numerous book reviews and encyclopedia entries.

Upton authored an essay for an exhibit of works by Curlee Raven Holton, associate professor of art and director of Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute, on display at Bloomfield College in New Jersey throughout March and April. Her artistic collaborations with Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II Professor, appeared in 1990 and were subsequently displayed in other venues.

Upton recently designated Lafayette’s Skillman Library as the repository for her personal and professional papers. She has been a member of the Lafayette English faculty since 1986.

Inaugurated five 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.

For information, call Upton, (610) 330-5250. Here is the full schedule of events:

Tuesday, April 11, 4:10 p.m., Skillman Library Room 120 — Writer-in-residence Lee Upton will read from and sign her fourth volume of poetry, Civilian Histories. A reception will follow. Books will be available for purchase. Sponsored by the Friends of Skillman Library.

Thursday, April 13, 4:10 p.m., Faculty Dining Room, Marquis Hall — Jean Corrie Poetry Reading and Ice Cream Social. Winners of the annual Jean Corrie Poetry Competition, open to first-year students, sophomores, and juniors, will read their work, as will the judges, Ruth Setton and Phil Memmer.

Top prize went to sophomore Rebecca Novia of Easton, Conn., for “Wife’s Eulogy.” Honorable mention went to juniors Andrew Platt of West Chester, Pa., for “Three If By Night” and Kristen Pompizzi of Upper Darby, Pa., for “Triple Bypass.”

Setton is a part-time visiting instructor of English at Lafayette. Her novel The Road to Fez will be published by Counterpoint in January 200l. She is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, PEN, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Wesleyan Writers Conference. She is the fiction editor of Tupelo Press, and the guest-editor of a special issue of FEMSPEC on international Jewish women’s magic realism. She is working on a new novel and a collection of poetry and tales. Memmer is a widely published poet and the editor of Three Rivers Journal. His poetry is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine.

Sponsored by the Department of English and the Academy of American Poets.

Monday, April 17, noon, Marlo Room, Farinon College Center — Jay Parini ’70, the Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College, will read and discuss his poetry. His most recent book is the acclaimed biography Robert Frost: A Life, published last year by Henry Holt & Co. Sponsored by the Friends of Skillman Library and the Department of English.

Tuesday, April 18. 4:10 p.m., Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall — Karen Alkalay-Gut, University of Tel Aviv professor and winner of the BBC Service Award in Poetry, will read her work. Sponsored by the Department of English, the Women’s Studies program, and Hillel.

Tuesday, April 25, 8 p.m., Williams Center for the Arts — MacKnight Black Poetry Reading. Campbell McGrath, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award for Spring Comes to Chicago and a MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”), will read his work, as will the winners of the annual MacKnight Black Poetry Competition, open to seniors, for which McGrath was guest judge.

Top honors went to Rachel Dresher of Hamburg, Pa., for “Self-Mutilation.” Honorable mention went to Emily Brown of Santa Rosa, Calif., for “The River”; Shoshana Cohen of Bridgewater, N.J., for “The Creator”; Lermin Kwan of Hong Kong for “Soup”; Gianna Locascio of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., for “When”; and Christopher Tague of Stamford, Conn., for “Saturation.”

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. Sponsored by the Department of English.

Wednesday, April 26, noon, Marlo Room, Farinon College Center – Student Poetry Reading: “Sweet Love Down by the Fire.” Creative writing students will read their poetry. Lunch will be available at no cost. Sponsored by the Department of English, McKeen Residence Hall, and Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

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