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Smith Celebrates the Power of Words in Poetry

As it marks the beginning of its 10th year, the Poetry Center is launching the first annual Smith College Poetry Prize for High School Girls, open to sophomore and junior girls in Massachusetts. The winner will receive $500, and she and three finalists will read their poems at Smith in April 2007. The judge for the 2007 competition is award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Submissions—a maximum of 25 lines, one poem per student—will be accepted through December 1.

The center plans a 10-year anniversary celebration to be held over the 2007–08 academic year. Since its founding, the Poetry Center has sought to connect the work of the classroom with the world of poetry by hosting a steady stream of distinguished poets and has emerged as a major literary force on campus.

Indeed, over the years Smith students and community members have flocked to hear the famous and the inspiring read their poems. Among those were Pulitzer Prize–winner Gwendolyn Brooks, an icon of modern American poetry, who, at the age of 83, made one of her last appearances before her death. More than a thousand people attended her 2000 reading.

Billy Collins visited Smith during his one-year term as the Library of Congress poet laureate. Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Galway Kinnell have also given readings, as have Stanley Kunitz Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo, Richard Wilbur, Adrienne Rich, Daniel Berrigan and W. S. Merwin.

Visit for more information.

This Fall at the Poetry Center

Charles Simic
7:30 p.m., September 26, Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall
Born in war-torn Eastern Europe in 1938 and an emigrant from Belgrade as a boy, the Pulitzer Prize–winner and MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipient has written more than 60 books. In 1995, Simic was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States.

Ellen Doré Watson
7:30 p.m., October 24, Stoddard Auditorium
Praised by Robert Pinsky as “an eloquent, passionate poet” and named by Library Journal as “one of 24 Poets for the 21st Century,” Watson serves as co-editor of The Massachusetts Review and leads local writing workshops. She teaches in the English department at Smith and has directed the Poetry Center since 1999.

Anne Marie Macari
7:30 p.m., November 14, Stoddard Auditorium
Anne Marie Macari ’s Ivory Cradle was selected by Robert Creeley to win the APR/Honickman First Book prize, and her second book, Gloryland, was dubbed “sumptuously visceral” by Publisher’s Weekly. She teaches in New England College’s Master of Fine Arts Program and lives in New Jersey.

Terrance Hayes
7:30 p.m., December 5, Stoddard Auditorium
Considered one of the most compelling new voices in contemporary poetry, Terrance Hayes consistently engages his readers, boldly wondering “if outrunning your captors is not the real meaning of Race?” He teaches creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and has published three books since 1999, mostly recently Wind in a Box.

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