Cherry Award Finalist Lecture Will Present ‘The Golden Laboratory: Poetry in the Classroom and Why We Need It’

Russ Spaar
Russ Spaar courtesy photo.
Oct. 23, 2015

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WACO, Texas (Oct. 23, 2015) – Cherry Award Finalist Lisa Russ Spaar, Ph.D., professor of English at the University of Virginia, will present “The Golden Laboratory: Poetry in the Classroom and Why We Need It” at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, in Bennett Auditorium on Baylor’s campus.

The Cherry Award honors outstanding professors in the English-speaking world who are distinguished for their abilities to communicate as classroom teachers. Each of this year’s three finalists will lecture on Baylor’s campus as part of the selection process.

“This is an exciting time for Cherry Award as we have been fortunate to have already had two excellent finalists visit our campus,” said Michael Thompson, chair of the Cherry Award selection committee. “Our third finalist, Dr. Lisa Spaar, will be presenting a thoughtful and inspiring public lecture on the importance of poetry in our lives and in the classroom. We welcome the Baylor community to attend.”

Spaar specializes in creative writing, and her poems have been published in many books, including “The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry” and “Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poets on Jefferson.” She has been published in The Yale Review, the Denver Quarterly and The Boston Review.

Spaar has won many honors and awards, including the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize in 2011 and the Library of Virginia Award for Poetry in 2009. Her teaching awards include the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award in 2010 and the All-University Teaching Award in 2009.

Spaar’s lecture will address the importance of poetry and its value to society.

“Poetry more broadly and deeply is not simply verse, but a way of engaging actively and discerningly with the world and the attendant wonder, responsibilities, risks and mysteries involved in that connection,” Spaar said. “I think that the experience of studying poetry in a classroom, in real time, with other people offers an inimitable way of exploring language, the use of which is one of our uniquely human capacities.”

Thirty-five years of college and university teaching has afforded Spaar the privilege of exploring poetry’s value over time, she said, adding that her preparation for the Cherry Lecture has helped her uncover the meaning of some of those observations.

This event is free and open to the public. Bennett Auditorium is located in Draper Academic Building at 1420 S. Seventh St.

For more information, contact Michael Thompson or visit the Cherry Awards website .


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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