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Jay Wright, a recipient of Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Fellowships, will read from his poetry at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, in the auditorium of Lafayette’s Kirby Hall of Civil Rights.

A reception will follow the reading, which is sponsored by the Presidential Speaker Series and the English department.

Students who have shown interest in writing poetry and in the work of African-American poets will have dinner with Wright at Lafayette’s David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center, along with a small contingent of faculty and staff members.

“Jay Wright’s visit represents an opportunity for students, faculty, and the community to hear one of the most acclaimed poets writing in the United States today, one whose work embraces an astonishing diversity of cultural and literary traditions,” says Carolynn Van Dyke, professor and associate head of English.

In 1996, the Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets awarded Wright its 62nd fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement. “Over the past quarter-century,” reads the citation written by Chancellor J.D. McClatchy, “Jay Wright’s books have appeared like summer lightning: sudden, unexpected, brilliant in the surrounding dark.” His poems, which reflect the landscapes and cultures of Africa, Latin America, and the American west, are “miracles of visionary energy, moralized lyricism, and a buoyant, complex mythmaking,” notes McClatchy.

Wright’s other honors include an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Literature Award.

His books of poetry include Transfigurations: Collected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2000), Boleros (1991), Selected Poems of Jay Wright (1987), Explications/Interpretations (1984), Elaine’s Book (1986), The Double Invention of Komo (1980), Dimensions of History (1976), Soothsayers and Omens (1976), and The Homecoming Singer (1971).

“Jay Wright is a brilliant and original poet, difficult and allusive, beating his own unpredictable path through a variety of terrains,” writes the New York Times.

Wright has given more than 100 poetry readings at colleges, libraries, and other venues, including the Library of Congress, and BBC Radio. He has taught at several universities in the U.S. and abroad.

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