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February 4, 2005

Poet Barbara Ras, Walt Whitman Award Winner, to Read at Smith

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College will present poet Barbara Ras at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, in Neilson Library Browsing Room. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

In 1997, Ras’ first book, “Bite Every Sorrow,” received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. In the award citation, Judge C.K. Williams wrote of her work, “Ras structures poems with a zaniness and an unpredictable cunning, and her verbal expertise and lucidity are as bright and surprising as her knowledge of the world is profound.” Deborah Diggs notes her “terrific range” in poems that are “by turn visionary, imaginative, strangely pure, at their bedrock genuine.” Ras’ evocative poems are rich hymns offered in praise of the everyday.

Exuberant, generous and expansive, the poems of Ras are lyrical snapshots of the small daily joys and sorrows that make up a life. Acutely observed, precisely rendered and deeply felt, her poems capture life’s complexities with affection and energy. Booklist magazine praises her “penetrating imagination, which turns even the simplest things iridescent with myriad shades of meaning ... Wherever she places her poetic persona, she navigates life with her senses on full alert.”

Named the 1999 Georgia Poet of the Year for “Bite Every Sorrow,” Ras’ work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Boulevard, Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner and American Scholar. She has also received honors from the National Writers Union, Spoon River Poetry Review and the San Jose Poetry Center, among others. Her second collection is due out from Penguin in 2006. An award-winning editor who has worked at North Point Press, Sierra Club Books and the University of Georgia Press, Ras lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she directs the Trinity University Press.

Ras’ reading is co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program, as part of the Kixie Denison Fieldman lectureship in Women’s Studies. Smith class of ‘53, Kixie Denison Fieldman was passionately interested in the arts broadly defined, and all issues related to women’s opportunities and possibilities.

The reading will be followed by book-selling. For further information, contact Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, director, 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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