Award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye will read from her works as part of Penn State’s annual Emily Dickinson Lectureship in American Poetry at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11. The event, free and open to the public, will take place in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium.
Naomi Shihab Nye to present 2018 Emily Dickinson Lecture on Oct. 11
Reading by critically acclaimed poet marks lecture series’ 20th anniversary
Nye, born to a Palestinian father and an American mother, grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling throughout the world, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. A self-described “wandering poet,” Nye has written or edited more than 30 volumes of poetry and essays, including “19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East,” “A Maze Me: Poems for Girls,” “Red Suitcase,” “Words Under the Words,” “Fuel,” and “You & Yours.” Her latest collection, “Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners,” was released earlier this year.
Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow. She has received numerous awards for her poems and for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. “Honeybee,” her collection of poems for young adults, won the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category. “The Turtle of Oman,” her novel for children, was named a Best Book by The Horn Book and Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association and received the 2015 Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Emily Dickinson Lectureship, an event that brings notable poets to campus each fall to visit English classes and talk to students about poetry before delivering their lecture. Past participants include six U.S. Poets Laureate; five of whom also received Pulitzer Prizes – three additional Pulitzer Prize winners, and two of only five poets ever invited to read at U.S. presidential inaugurations.
“For 20 years, the Emily Dickinson Lecture has been the marquee event of the fall semester for our department,” said Mark Morrison, professor and head of the Penn State Department of English. During that time, he adds, the event has grown to become “one of the most significant poetry reading series offered by any university in the country.”
The annual lecture series is supported by an endowment created by Penn State alumni Barbara (1959, arts and letters) and George (1959, business administration) Kelly. Barbara wrote book reviews for “Dickinson Studies” and later served as a reviewer and book review editor for the “Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin” for 20 years before retiring in 2014.
“To bring in authors of this caliber on an annual basis – poets who pack Foster Auditorium or larger halls with members of the community, faculty, and, most importantly, students – requires not only strong financial support, but also a visible and emphatic commitment to the value of poetry,” Morrison says. “The idea for a series that would take as its inspiration the exceptional poetic achievements of Emily Dickinson – perhaps Barbara’s favorite poet – and bring some of the best poets writing today into the lives of our community came from the Kellys themselves, and the ability to make their vision a reality is the result of their sustained support of the series.”