Poet Ellen Bryant Voigt to Read at Smith
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.— Smith College will present a reading by poet Ellen Bryant Voigt at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. This event is part of the inaugural year festivities welcoming President Kathleen McCartney to Smith and is free and open to the public.
Born and raised on a farm in Virginia, Voigt revealed an aptitude for music at an early age when she began playing the piano. She attended Converse College for its music conservatory but turned to poetry after discovering the work of poets e.e. cummings and Rainer Maria Rilke, and went on to earn a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa. She has said that music influences her writing “entirely” and that poetry “does its work through music, which then allows for exploration of complicated and therefore accurate feelings.”
Voigt is the author of eight highly acclaimed collections of poetry. Her reading at Smith coincides and celebrates her latest collection, “Headwaters,” which features what poet Philip Levine has called “her unerring craft.” In it, she dispenses with punctuation, making brilliant use of run-together natural phrasing and enjambment to establish pace, tone and urgency.
Voigt’s many honors include the Folger Shakespeare Library’s O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. Since 1981 she has taught in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Voigt served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and State Poet of Vermont, where she has lived for many years.
Voigt’s reading will be followed by a book sale and signing. In addition, in celebration of McCartney’s inauguration and of Voigt’s visit, a fine letterpress broadside of her poem “Practice,” designed and illustrated by award-winning artist Barry Moser, will be unveiled and available for purchase.
For further information, contact Jennifer Blackburn in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, Poetry Center director, at (413) 585-3368.
For disability access information or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail ODS@smith.edu. All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.