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Award-winning poet Alicia Ostriker to deliver 2021 Emily Dickinson Lecture

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Multiple award-winning poet and critic Alicia Ostriker will deliver Penn State's 2021 Emily Dickinson Lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23. Advance registration for this free event, which will be offered via Zoom, is required.

Called “America’s most fiercely honest poet” by The Progressive, Ostriker is the author of 17 volumes of poetry, which often explore such topics as family relationships, sexuality, politics, and religion (specifically Jewish identity). Two of Ostriker’s earlier collections, “Waiting for the Light” (2017) and “The Book of Seventy” (2009), received the National Jewish Book Award. Twice a National Book Award Finalist — for “The Little Space”(1998) and “The Crack in Everything”(1996) — and winner of the William Carlos Williams Award for “The Imaginary Lover” (1986), Ostriker is also known for her intelligent and passionate appraisal of women’s place in literature.

Ostriker’s critical work includes the now classic “Stealing the Language: the Emergence of Women’s Poetry in America,” and other books about American poetry, from Walt Whitman to the present. She is also the author of critical books on the Bible, including the controversial “The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions.”

Her most recent poetry collection, “The Volcano and After” (2020) meshes together poems from 2002-2019 that follow the challenges a person faces as they age. Joan Larkin describes “The Volcano and After” this way: “In a voice absolutely her own — wild, earthy, irreverent, full of humor and surprise — Ostriker takes on nothing less than what it feels like to be alive.” In an interview with Vanderbilt, Ostriker called writing a “spiritual experience,” and that the writer can “experience himself/herself as a vessel the wind of the spirit blows through."

Ostriker, who lives in New York City, professor emerita of English at Rutgers University where she taught until 2004. She has also taught in two different master of fine arts programs. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as The New Yorker, The Yale Review, The American Poetry Review and Best American Poetry.

The Emily Dickinson Lectureship in American Poetry is made possible through the generosity of Penn State Alumni George and Barbara Kelly. Additional support for the event is provided by the Penn State Department of English and the College of the Liberal Arts.

Last Updated September 20, 2021