Arts and Entertainment

Pennsylvania Center for the Book announces 2018 Public Poetry Project

Annual poster series event to honor locally grown poetry scheduled for March 28

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book's 2017 Public Poetry Project winners read their winning poems and others during a ceremony on April 20, 2017. The poets and their poetry posters include, from left, James Brasfield and "Daylight Ghosts," Meg Day and "Aubade for One Still Uncertain of Being Born," Fred Shaw and "Scraping Away," and Laura Spagnoli with "Waiting for Test Results in the Kitchen." Close-ups of each poster can be seen at the Public Poetry Project website. Credit: Nathan Valchar/Penn State University LibrariesAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Four Pennsylvania poets have been chosen to represent the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s 2018 Public Poetry Poster series. Jen Ashburn, Thomas Devaney, Dawn Lundy Martin and Marci Nelligan were selected to read their work as part of “An Evening of Pennsylvania Poets: Readings in Celebration of the Public Poetry Project” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28. The 18th annual event will be held in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, on Penn State’s University Park campus.               

During the event, readings by all four poets will be followed by a poster- and book-signing session. This year’s posters will be designed by Nathan Valchar of the University Libraries and available free at the event. The Public Poetry Project posters also will be distributed to Pennsylvania bookstores, cafes and businesses, and in September at the National Book Festival, an annual event in Washington, D.C., organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress.

Jen Ashburn is a writer, teacher and technology analyst in Pittsburgh who earned her master of fine arts in poetry and creative nonfiction from Chatham University. Her work has appeared in “Unconditional Surrender: An Anthology of Love Poems,” published by Low Ghost Press in 2017, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and elsewhere. “The Light on the Wall,” published by Main Street Rag in 2016, is her first full-length poetry book.

Thomas Devaney is a visiting professor of English at Haverford College and author of four poetry collections, including “Calamity Jane,” published by Furniture Press Books in 2014, and “The Picture that Remains,” published by The Print Center in 2014. He is also the editor of the video-poem e-journal, ONandOnScreen.

Dawn Lundy Martin is a University of Pittsburgh professor and the director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP), which she cofounded with 2006 Public Poetry Project poet Terrance Hayes. Martin is an activist and author of four poetry collections, including “Good Stock Strange Blood,” published by Coffee House Press in 2017.

Marci Nelligan teaches creative writing at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster and is the author of two poetry collections, “The Ghost Manada,” published by Black Radish Books in 2016, and “Infinite Variations,” published by Black Radish Book in 2011. She coedited “Intersection,” published by Chain Links Books in 2008, a book about activist Jane Jacobs, and has published two poetry chapbooks.

Started in 1999 by the late Kim Fisher, the first Paterno Family Librarian for Literature, the Public Poetry Project seeks to make poetry more available in the daily lives of Pennsylvanians by placing poems in public places. Posters of the winning poems are produced, and since 2000, more than 70 poets with a connection to Pennsylvania, either by birth or long period of residency, have had their work displayed as part of this series.

The project is under the direction of Ellysa Stern Cahoy, assistant director, and Caroline Wermuth, outreach coordinator, for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, and is supported by the Paterno Family Librarian for Literature, William S. Brockman; the University Libraries; the Department of English in the College of the Liberal Arts; and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book, established in 1977 at the Library of Congress, encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. In addition to the Public Poetry Project, it also administers the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, Poems from Life, Letters about Literature; A Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy; and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s Public Poetry Project, contact Caroline Wermuth at, 814-863-5472 or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website,

Last Updated March 07, 2018