14th Annual Beall Poetry Festival to Present Renowned American Contemporary Poets April 3-5

March 31, 2008

by Devany Severin, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

The 14th annual Beall Poetry Festival, a three-day celebration of some of America's finest contemporary poets, will feature three renowned poets and an acclaimed poetry critic on Baylor's campus. The festival events, which are free and open to the public, will run Thursday, April 3 through Saturday, April 5 in Armstrong Browning Library and Roxy Grove Hall and will include a panel discussion, poetry readings and the Virginia Beall Ball Lecture on Contemporary Poetry.

The festival draws a wide variety of people each year, said Dr. Nancy Chinn, director of the Beall Poetry Festival and associate professor of English at Baylor. "The event is fun, thought-provoking, moving, and interesting - sometimes all at the same time. I don't know of another pleasure quite like hearing poets read their own work," she said.

The festival will begin at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3, with a presentation of student literary awards in room 101 of Carol Science Hall. At 7 p.m., Jean Valentine, a winner of the National Book Award for Poetry, will read from her works.

Valentine is the author of 11 books of poetry, and her book, Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems (1965-2000), won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2004. Valentine has taught at a number of universities including New York University, the University of Pittsburgh and Colombia University. Her first book of poems, Dream Barker (1965), was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

Valentine received the Shelly Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America in 2000. She has also been awarded numerous grants and fellowships from institutions including the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Bunting Institute.

Friday's events will begin with the four festival participants - Jean Valentine, Li-Young Lee, Langdon Hammer and Gary Snyder - participating in a panel discussion at 3 p.m. in Roxy Grove Hall. At 7 p.m., Li-Young Lee will present a poetry reading in Armstrong Browning Library.

Lee earned an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for his book, Winged Seed: A Remembrance (1995). He is the author of four books of poetry: The Rose (1986), The City in Which I Love You (1990), Book of My Nights (2001) and his most recent, Behind My Eyes (2008). Each of the first three collections was recognized with an award: the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award (1988), the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets (1990), and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America (2002). In 1988, Lee was interviewed by Bill Moyer on the PBS series "The Power of the Word" and the interviews were published in Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee (2006).

Lee has taught at Northwestern University and the University of Iowa and has received many notable fellowships and other awards, including ones from the Guggenheim and Whiting Foundations, the National Foundation for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Lannan Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, and three Pushcart prizes.

At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, Langdon Hammer, professor and chair of the English department at Yale University, will present the Virginia Beal Ball Lecture in Armstrong Browning Library.

Hammer serves as poetry editor of The American Scholar, a poetry review publication used by the New York Times, and he served as editor of Hart Crane: Complete Poetry and Selected Letters (2006) and O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane (1997). He is the author of Hart Crane and Allen Tate: Janus-Faced Modernism (1993). He has published numerous essays, interviews and reviews on modern and contemporary American poets, including Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stevens, James Merrill and Richard Howard.

Hammer also critiques scholarly work in modern and contemporary poetry for university presses and academic publishers including Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Stanford and Blackwell, and for many journals devoted to the study of modern and contemporary poetry. He has twice served as a judge for the Bollingen Prize in Poetry and is a published poet.

The festival will conclude at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, with a poetry reading by Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder in Armstrong Browning Library.

Snyder became a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance during the mid-1950s, after graduating from Reed College in 1951. He was associated with such Beat Generation writers as Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac. Snyder has published more than a dozen books of poetry, beginning with Myths & Texts (1960), Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems (1969); Turtle Island (1974), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry; Axe Handles (1983), for which he received an American Book Award; Left Out in the Rain, New Poems 1947-1985 (1988); No Nature: New and Selected Poems (1992), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; Mountains and Rivers Without End (1997); and Danger on Peaks (2004).

Snyder received the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1997, and he has received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Levinson Prize from Poetry, the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Times and the Shelley Memorial Award. In 2003, he was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.

The Beall Poetry Festival is supported by the John A. and DeLouise McClelland Beall Endowed Fund, established in 1994 by the late Mrs. Virginia B. Ball of Muncie, Ind., to honor her parents and to encourage the writing and appreciation of poetry. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, call (254) 710-1768, or visit the Beall Poetry Festival web site. A schedule of events may be found here.

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