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March 01, 2011

Words, Form Take Center Stage in Poetry Spotlight Series

By Heidi Opdyke

National Poetry Month is April, but Carnegie Mellon is starting its celebration early.

American poets and critics Daisy Fried, James Longenbach and Fred Moten will read their work and discuss the state of contemporary poetry from 7 – 9 p.m., Thursday, March 29 in McConomy Auditorium.

“This is going to be a really great introduction to poetry. I think people will be surprised and satisfied to hear these three different perspectives on poetry,” said Yona Harvey, director of the Creative Writing Program. “They’ll be surprised how they can connect to these writers.”

Co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America (PSA) and Creative Writing programs at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, the event is the first of a spotlight series in Pittsburgh. The event will be moderated by Robert Casper of the PSA.

Poetry has thrived in Pittsburgh in recent years. Sherrie Flick, a special instructor in the English Department, was the artistic director for the Gist Street Reading Series, which recently wrapped up after a 10-year run.

“That was a huge loss,” Harvey said. “Lots of our students used to go there. It was a space that was different than most academic spaces. All the students could see that it’s not just students and academics going to hear poetry. We’re going to miss that.”

The last year has been busy for the English Department. Terrance Hayes won the National Book award for his poetry collection “Lighthead,” and books have been released by Sharon Dilworth, Jim Daniels and Jane McCafferty among others.

“I am proud to be associated with such an outstanding faculty,” noted Chris Neuwirth, head of the Department of English. “By actively publishing,
our creative writing faculty are not only able to share their craft with their students, but can also mentor students as they aim for professional as well as artistic success.”

Daisy Fried

Daisy FriedFried is the author of two books of poems published by the University of Pittsburgh press, “My Brother is Getting Arrested Again,” a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and “She Didn’t Mean to Do It,” which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize.

Recent poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review and elsewhere.

She reviews books of poetry for The New York Times and Poetry magazine. She lives in Philadelphia.

Fred Moten

Fred MotenFred Moten lives in Durham, N.C., where he teaches English and African American Studies at Duke University.

He works at the intersection of black studies, performance studies, poetry and critical theory.

He is author of “Arkansas” (Pressed Wafer), “In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition” (University of Minnesota Press), “I ran from it but was still in it.” (Cusp Books), “Hughson’s Tavern” (Leon Works) and “B Jenkins” (Duke University Press).

James Longenbach

James LogenbachJames Longenbach is a poet and a critic whose most recent collection of poems, “The Iron Key,” is a meditation on the conditions and consequences of beauty. His most recent critical work, “The Art of the Poetic Line,” is an account of work ranging from Shakespeare to Ashbery.


What: Poetry Society of America: Spotlight Series
When: 7 – 9 p.m., March 29
Where: McConomy Auditorium