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November 19, 2003

Three Poets to Celebrate Walt Whitman at Smith College

Editor's note: For a photo of Espada, Kinnell or Rushin, contact Marti Hobbes at or (413) 585-2190.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College will present "I Contain Multitudes": A Celebration of Walt Whitman" at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday Dec. 2, in Wright Hall Auditorium. This special event features poets Galway Kinnell, Martín Espada and Kate Rushin, three diverse and dynamic voices, reading favorite passages of Whitman's work as well as their own poems, and speaking about Whitman's profound influence on poets writing in both English and Spanish.

Kinnell has been a major figure in American poetry for three decades. His "Selected Poems" was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In his introduction to "The Essential Whitman," Kinnell acknowledges Whitman as his "principal master," and critics have noted Kinnell's Whitmanesque cadences, transcendental philosophy and personal intensity.

Espada, author of seven prize-winning poetry collections, has been hailed as "the Latino poet of his generation." Espada's work is often described as a poetry of advocacy: the poems speak, as Whitman's do, "for the rights of them the others are down upon." Espada, who will read a few Whitman selections in Spanish, is also an essayist, translator and political activist. Of Espada, author Russell Banks declared, "His ambition and his achievement remind us of Whitman, where it all begins."

Rushin's teaching and readings over the past two decades reflect her commitment to the songs of everyday people. Like Whitman, she hears "America singing"; like Langston Hughes, she is "the darker [sister]," who takes readers with her into "the kitchen," to honor the women who work there by nourishing family, community and society. Rushin is author of "The Black Back-Ups" and the forthcoming "Camden Sweet, Lawnside Blues."

This special Whitman event is free and open to the public. Works by Whitman and by the three participating poets will be available, and the reading will be followed by a book signing. Special reserve block seating is available for schools and groups. For more information, contact Cindy Furtek at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, director of the Smith College Poetry Center, at (413) 585-3368.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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