Current U.S. Poet Laureate To Headline Poetry Festival April 8-11

March 25, 2002
News Photo 253Current U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins headlines the 2002 Beall Poetry Festival at Baylor.

Billy Collins, the current United States Poet Laureate, will headline this year's Beall Poetry Festival, which runs April 8-11 at Baylor University. Collins will be joined by four other acclaimed poets -- Scott Cairns, Jonathan Galassi, Jane Hirshfield and Marge Piercy -- at the four-day event, which is sponsored by Baylor's English department. The festival is free and open to the public.

"The Beall Poetry Festival is one of Baylor's great cultural events," said Dr. Greg Garrett, associate professor of English and organizer of the festival. "Each year's program has been exciting, but Billy Collins' appearance this spring marks the first time a sitting Poet Laureate has ever appeared at the festival. Mr. Collins is one of America's most popular poets, and his work appeals across the board to critics and to laypersons. He's really easy to listen to and to enjoy."

Collins, who will give a reading of his works at 8 p.m. April 11, has published several collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, The Apple That Astonished Paris, Picnic, Lightning and the recently-released Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems. The Best Cigarette, a recording of Collins reading a selection of his poems, was published in 1997. A frequent guest on National Public Radio, Collins is a professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York.

Publisher Jonathan Galassi also is the author of two volumes of poetry, Morning Run and North Street. Editor-in-Chief and executive vice president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, he is the translator and editor of Eugenio Montale Collected Poems: 1920-1954, Otherwise: Last and First Poems of Eugenio Montale and The Second Life of Art: Selected Essays of Eugenio Montale. Galassi has received two Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature in 2000. He will deliver the Virginia Beall Ball Lecture at 8 p.m. April 8 and will give a reading at 3:30 p.m. April 9.

Prolific writer Marge Piercy is a poet, novelist and essayist who has written more than a dozen books of poetry, 15 novels and the new memoir Sleeping with Cats. She co-founded Leapfrog Press, a small literary publishing house, with her husband, Ira Wood, and also co-wrote with him So You Want to Write. She has lived on Cape Cod since 1971 and frequently gives lectures and readings on writing, women's issues and Jewish renewal. Piercy will read at 8 p.m. April 9.

The author of five collections of poetry, including Given Sugar, Given Salt and The Lives of the Heart, Jane Hirshfield also edited and co-translated two poetry anthologies. Her honors include The Poetry Center Book Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and Columbia University's Translation Center Award. She will read at 8 p.m. April 10.

Cairns teaches poetry writing, American literature and seminars in poetry and poetics at the University of Missouri. His collections of poetry include Recovered Body, The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel and Figures for the Ghost, and he also serves as series editor for the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. His new book, PhiloKalia: New and Selected Poems is due this spring. Cairns will read a selection of his works at 3:30 p.m. April 11.

In addition to the individual readings, all five poets will take part in a panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. April 10.

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

Evening events will be held in Meadows Recital Hall at the Glennis McCrary Music Building, while daytime events will take place in the Hankamer Treasure Room in Armstrong Browning Library. For more information, visit the web site at or call the department of English at (254) 710-1768.

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