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Lafayette’s celebration of National Poetry Month will begin with the winners of the College’s annual Jean Corrie Poetry Competition reading their work at 4:10 p.m., Tuesday, April 10, at an ice cream social in the Faculty Dining Room, Marquis Hall.

The public is invited to attend free of charge.

For the second straight year, Rebecca Novia, a junior double major in English and art from Easton, Conn., took top prize in the Corrie competition, which is open to first-year students, sophomores, and juniors. Her winning entry is entitled “Thirst.”

Honorable mention went to Ian Bibby, a junior Bethesda, Md., for “Illness” and Liza Zitelli, a junior Marquis Scholar and English major from Bergenfield, N.J., for “Guilt Blanket.” The contest is sponsored by the Department of English and the Academy of American Poets.

The judge of the competition, award-winning poet and translator Len Roberts, a professor at Northampton Community College, will also read his work. The floor will then be open for other poetry readings.

“Everything inspires me to write, from a sunset to a Band-Aid,” Novia says. “I entered this year’s contest because I enjoyed reading my poems so much at the Jean Corrie poetry reading last year.”

“Rebecca’s poetry is edgy, risky, daring, and keenly attentive to the importance of surprising us through her sly and often comic rhythms and images,” says accomplished poet and critic Lee Upton, professor of English and writer-in-residence, the principal organizer of National Poetry Month events at Lafayette.

Novia has honed her skills at Lafayette but claims her deep literary roots run deep and can be traced to her own family, among other influences.

“My poetic mentor is my father, who instilled a love for poetry deep into my heart at a very young age and, of course, Walt Whitman, because he just knows,” she says.

Roberts is the winner of the 1999 National Endowment for the Humanities College Teachers & Independent Scholar Award; six Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Writing Awards; four Soros Foundation Poetry Translation Awards for Hungarian translations; a 1994 Fulbright Scholar Award to teach modern and contemporary American poetry at the University of Turku, Finland, and another to teach American poetry at Janus Pannonius University, Hungary, in 1988-89. He received first prize in the 1993 Wildwood Poetry Contest; the Witter-Bynner Poetry Translation Award, 1991-92; a 1991 Pushcart Prize; a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Award, Poetry, 1990-91; a Fulbright Poetry Translation Award, Hungary, summer, 1991; National Endowment for the Arts Writing Awards, Poetry, 1989, 1984; was included in the Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, 1998-2000, 1994-1996, 1992, 1987-1990; and earned other honors.

He has written 10 books of poetry, including The Silent Singer: New & Selected Poems, published this year; The Trouble-Making Finch (1998); Learning About the Heart (1992), winner of the Silverfish Review’s annual chapbook competition; Black Wings (1989), selected for the 1988 National Poetry Series by Sharon Olds; and Sweet Ones, winner of the Great Lakes & Prairies Award.

Roberts’ poems have been published in U.S. and foreign journals, including The American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, Boston Review, California Quarterly, North American Review, Paris Review, Partisan Review, Poetry, Poetry Australia, and many others.

His poetry also has been included in a number of anthologies, including four selections in The Body Electric: The Best Poetry from the American Poetry Review, 1972-1999; four in Identity Lessons: Learning American Style: An Anthology of Contemporary Writing; five in World Poetry, and numerous others. He also has done work on translations of Hungarian poetry that have appeared in books and magazines, and contributed essays to publications.

Roberts has produced two films and judged many poetry competitions.

He has been a visiting professor in creative writing/poetry at the Western Pennsylvania Writer’s Project, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School, for summer seminars since 1984. He has been a professor of English at Northampton County Community College from 1974-1983, 1986-1987, 1989-1993, 1995-present. He was a visiting assistant professor in creative writing at Lafayette College from 1983-1985.

Roberts won the Teacher of the Year Award, Northampton Community College, 1999 and 1987, and was listed in Who’s Who Among American Teachers, 2000, 1998, and 1994. He received the 1994 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award, Lehigh University; the Professor Joseph A. Buff Award (Alumni of the Year, Career Achievement), Siena College, 1991; the International Award for Teaching Excellence, given by the College Leadership Program at the International Conference on Excellence, Austin, Texas, 1989; and the National Faculty Award (Fine Arts category), presented by the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges, Dallas, Texas, 1987.

Roberts is the originator and director of the Northampton Community College poetry series, held since 1975 with such poets as Philip Levine, Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, Gwendolyn Brooks, Gerald Stem, C.K. Williams, W.D. Snodgrass, Hayden Carruth, Marge Piercy, and Lucille Clifton. He was a senior member of the Advisory Board to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts from 1990-1997, and co-director of Lafayette’s Roethke Humanities Festival from 1982-85.

Roberts has a bachelor’s degree from Siena College, a master’s degree from the University of Dayton, and a doctorate from Lehigh University.

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