Poetry Center Committee

Ellen Doré Watson

Ellen Doré Watson is the author of five books of poems, including We Live in Bodies and Ladder Music, winner of the New England/New York award from Alice James Books, ThisSharpening, and, most recently, Dogged Hearts. She has published individual poems widely in literary journals, including The American Poetry Review, Tin House, and The New Yorker. Her awards and honors include a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Grant, the Rona Jaffe Writers Award, Fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Vermont Studio Center, and a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. Watson has translated a dozen books from the Brazilian Portuguese, including The Alphabet in the Park: Selected Poems of Adélia Prado, and has co-translated contemporary Arabic language poetry with Saadi Simawe. In addition to directing the Poetry Center, she leads writing workshops in the community, serves as Poetry and Translation Editor of The Massachusetts Review, and teaches in the Drew University Low-Res MFA Program in Poetry and Translation.

“I’ve never forgotten reading about a little girl who said that the pictures in the radio were so much more beautiful than the pictures on TV. Yes! Poems are radio in an age of TV. Reading poems on the page, listening to poems out loud, we are the place their meaning is made, their sound is heard, their intentions are imagined–and their beauty and terror come into our bodies. Poetry is good food.”


Annie Boutelle, Chair (Acting Director Fall ’08)

Born in Scotland, Annie Boutelle was educated at the University of St. Andrews and New York University . She has taught in the Smith English Department since 1984. Author ofThistle And Rose: A Study Of Hugh MacDiarmid’s Poetry and numerous essays on scholarly and popular topics, she has also published two books of poems, Becoming Bone: Poems on the Life of Celia Thaxter and Nest of Thistles. Founder of the Poetry Center at Smith, she devotes much of her time to writing and promoting poetry.

“Starting up the Poetry Center at Smith was not something I had planned to do, and yet when I look back, I can see that it fits perfectly with some of my earliest and strongest impulses. As a child, I loved poetry, and I wrote it passionately during my teenage years. My Ph.D. thesis focused on the work of a great twentieth-century Scottish poet, and almost all of my teaching here at Smith has focused on helping my students discover what makes language come alive. The 1996 proposal to establish a Poetry Center at Smith must surely have had something to do with the fact that I had, eight months earlier, launched myself on a project of writing a sequence of poems based on the life of Celia Thaxter, one of the most popular poets in nineteenth-century America. Since then, I’ve plunged into this life of writing and promoting poetry, and I feel as if I’ve come home. I’ve never been happier.”


Rosetta Marantz Cohen

Rosetta Marantz Cohen received her BA in English from Yale University , an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University , and an EdM and EdD from Teachers College, Columbia . She teaches courses in the history and philosophy of education, and in American Studies. She is the author of four books in the field education, dealing with the history of the teaching profession and with the problems of school reform. She is also the author of a volume of poetry entitled Domestic Scenes. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Feminist Studies. Currently, she is working on an ethnography of an urban high school and a book-length poem on high school life.


Thalia Pandiri

Thalia Pandiri holds a bachelor of arts from the City College of New York and a master of arts and doctorate from Columbia University. She studied at the Free University of Berlin and is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

Pandiri has published critical work and translations in the areas of ancient and modern Greek literature, Medieval Latin and modern drama.

She is editor-in-chief of the literary translation journal METAMORPHOSES. Her special interests include translation studies and maternal filicide.


kquashie_smkevin everod quashie

kevin everod quashie was born and raised in st. kitts in the caribbean. he teaches cultural studies and theory in the department of afro-american studies, and has a book forthcoming from rutgers university press (fall 03) titled “black women, identity, and cultural theory: (un)becoming the subject.” “there is, after all, no life, no living, without love. and poetry is love-full—lush, complicated, soothing, propelling me forth beyond edges, giving me the necessary pause.”


mthurston_smMichael Thurston

Michael Thurston grew up in the midwest and in Texas. He majored in English and history as an undergraduate and took the M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. After five years on the faculty at Yale, he joined the English department at Smith in 2000. Michael is the author of Making Something Happen: American Political Poetry Between the World Wars (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), and co-editor of Modernism, Inc.: Body, Memory, Capital (New York University Press, 2001). He has published essays on Langston Hughes, Muriel Rukeyser, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Lowell, and Eavan Boland, as well as numerous book reviews in Yale Review, Kenyon Review, Indiana Review, and other magazines. Michael teaches courses on American literature, especially poetry, and on modern and contemporary British and Irish poetry.

“With its roots in song, poetry involves not only the mind and emotions but also the body. That complicated and complete involvement makes it, to me, wonderfully inviting and satisfying, whether the poem is ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ or ‘Anarchy in the U.K.'”


sdyne_smSusan Van Dyne

Professor and Chair of the Program for the Study of Women and Gender, Susan R. Van Dyne took her B.A. in English and French from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and her Ph.D. in English from Harvard University.  Her literature courses in contemporary poetry and in “recovered” American women novelists from the nineteenth century combine the approaches of feminist literary theory and cultural studies.  She has collaborated with Marilyn Schuster to design and evaluate women’s studies programs or curriculum transformation projects for more than fifty colleges and universities and about twenty secondary schools, an experience that led to co-editing Women’s Place In The Academy: Transforming The Liberal (1985).

Her Revising Life: Sylvia Plath’s Ariel Poems (University of North Carolina, 1993), winner of the “Outstanding Academic Book” award from CHOICE magazine, draws on the Sylvia Plath archives housed in the Rare Book collection here at Smith, and analyzes the interrelationships of gender and the creative process, especially the ways Plath reworked autobiography in composing and revising her late poems. She is working on a new book Proving Grounds: The Politics Of Reading Contemporary Women Poets, that uses feminist criticism, post-colonial studies, and ethnic studies to locate poetic texts in history and to show how the salience of gender, race, and nation has become more pronounced (and more contested) in producing readings both in and outside the academy. This project involves writing about poets she often teaches–Sharon Olds, Cathy Song, Rita Dove, Eavan Boland, and about the rivalry between Sylvia Plath and her husband, Ted Hughes. An essay from the new book on Dove is included in Women Poets Of The Americas: Toward A Pan-american (Notre Dame, 1999), and a piece on Song appears in Re-placing America: Conversations And Contestations (University of Hawaii, 1999).

A challenging and exciting project for the last three years has been working with other feminist faculty at Smith and at Wesleyan to found MERIDIANS, a new feminist interdisciplinary journal whose goal is to provide a forum for the finest scholarship and creative work by and about women of color in a U.S. and an international context. The inaugural issue is planned for the fall of 2000.


pgregoryPeter Gregory

Peter N. Gregory joined the faculty at Smith College as the Jill Ker Conway Professor of Religion and East Asian Studies in 1999. After receiving his doctorate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1981, he taught in the Program for the Study of Religion at the University of Illinois for fifteen years. He has also served as the President and Executive Director of the Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Human Values since 1984, and in that capacity he has directed two publication series with the University of Hawaii Press: “Studies in East Asian Buddhism” and “Classics in East Asian Buddhism.” His research has focused on medieval Chinese Buddhism, especially the Chan (Zen) and Huayan traditions during the Tang and Song dynasties, on which he has written or edited seven books, including Tsung-mi and the Sinification of Buddhism (1991). He is currently completing a translation and study of a ninth-century Chinese Buddhist text on the historical and doctrinal origins of the Chan tradition. Since coming to Smith, his research and teaching have become increasingly concerned with Buddhism in America, and he has recently coedited Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences, which was published by Wisdom Publications in the fall of 2007.

His interest in Chinese Buddhism and Zen was originally awakened by reading R. H. Blythe’s wonderful translations of Japanese Haiku and Gary Snyder’s crisp translations of Han-shan’s poems.