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This year’s celebration of National Poetry Month is jam-packed with talented writers as the College marks the 20th anniversary of the H. MacKnight Black Poetry Competition.

Earlier this month, Natasha Trethewey, the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States, presented the annual John L Hatfield ’67 Lecture hosted by Friends of Skillman Library. The talk served as an introduction to the College’s poetry month events.

headshot of Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon, photo by Pieter M. van Hattem

Paul Muldoon, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2003, is serving as the MacKnight Black competition’s judge and reader. Muldoon was the first reader and judge in 1994 when the competition was judged for the first time by someone outside the English department. The winner of the 1994 competition, Jennifer Torres ’94, will also attend the celebration.

The competition reading will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in the Williams Center for the Arts. Muldoon will read from his work following readings by the winning student, English major Jasmine Jay ’14 (Allentown, Pa.), for “Two-Dimensional Jesus,” and honorable mentions April Barry ’14 (Point Pleasant, N.J), a double major in English and international affairs, for “The Penguin Figurines,” and Henna Cho ’14 (Demarest, N.J.), a double major in English and psychology, for “Twin.”

Muldoon will host a question-and-answer session earlier in the day at 4:10 p.m. in the Marlo Room of Farinon College Center.

In honor of the 20th anniversary, several professional poets who previously won campus poetry contests will take part in the Alumni Poets Reading 4:10 p.m., Tuesday, April 15, in room 104 of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. The reading, which will include a panel discussion about the writing life, features Ross Gay ’96, Leslie Ann Hobayan ’95, Leslie Sysko ’97, and Yolanda Wisher ’98.

The College’s other major competition, the Jean Corrie Poetry Reading and Ice Cream Social, will be 4:10 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in the Marlo Room of Farinon College Center. BJ Ward is serving as the competition judge and featured poet. Winner Marlee Abbott ’17 (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) will read her poem “ASIM18,” and Jeff Wheeler ’16 (Westford, Mass.), a double major in psychology and international affairs, will read his piece “Plunder,” which won honorable mention.

Open to seniors, the MacKnight competition is named for MacKnight Black ’16, who at the time of his death in 1931 was one of America’s most significant poets. The Corrie competition includes entries from first-year students, sophomores, and juniors and is supported by the Academy of American Poets.


  • April 10, 4:10 p.m., Marlo Room of Farinon College Center – The Jean Corrie Poetry Reading and Ice Cream Social
  • April 15, 12:13 p.m., Williams Center for the Arts lobby – Ninth Annual Favorite Poem Reading
  • April 15, 4:10 p.m., room 104 of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights – Alumni Poets Reading
  • April 16, 4:10 p.m., Marlo Room of Farinon College Center – Question-and-Answer Session with Paul Muldoon
  • April 16, 7 p.m., Williams Center for the Arts – MacKnight Black Poetry Reading
  • April 29, 7 p.m., Faculty Dining Room of Marquis Hall – New Writers Cabaret, poems and fiction from creative writing students

National Poetry Month events are sponsored by the Department of English, Dean of College, the Office of the Provost, and Friends of Skillman Library.

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