Contemporary Writers Series  


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2006 - 2007 Featured Writers

Kurtis Lamkin Sept. 21, 2006
Li-Young Lee Nov. 7, 2006
Linda Pastan March 20, 2007
Marilyn Nelson April 12, 2007
Note: All lectures are at 7:30 p.m. and in the Wege Ballroom. All lunch talks are at 12:30 p.m. Location and Dates to be announced.
Kurstin Lamkin - Sept. 21, 2006
Kurtis Lamkin Works by Kurtis Lamkin:
"Queen of Carolina" CD; "El Shabazz" CD
Kurtis Lamkin is a poet from Philadelphia who plays the Kora, a beautiful twenty-one string West African harp/lute. He has performed his poems internationally, most recently at the Gullah Festival in South Carolina, The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, New Jersey, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and at the Skagit River Poetry Festival and Bumbershoot Festival in Washington State.
Li-Young Lee - Nov. 7, 2006
Li Young Lee Related Links:
Three Poems by Li-Young Lee
The son of exiled Chinese parents, Li-Young Lee was born in Djakarta, Indonesia, in 1957, and spent his early years wandering with his family through Southeast Asia to avoid political persecution. Lee's mother was a member of the Chinese royal family. His father at one time had been personal physician to Mao Zedong but left for Indonesia where he became a professor of English and Philosophy at Gamaliel University, which he helped found. Arrested by then-dictator Sukarno in a wave of anti- Chinese upset, the father and his family managed to escape and spent five years moving from Hong Kong to Macau and Japan before finally emigrating to the United States in 1964. Not surprisingly, given his personal history, his poetry deals with questions of identity, what it means to be Chinese, and broader questions of life in a world where the old idea of the nation state seems to be breaking down. Critics have compared his work to famous poets of the past such as John Keats, Rainier Maria Rilke and Theodore Roethke. Lee has taught creative writing at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, Northwestern University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Texas, Austin. He is also the recipient of many poetry awards, including a creative artist grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was also featured on the PBS series The Power of the Word with Bill Moyers.
Linda Pastan - March 20, 2007
Linda Pastan Works by Linda Pastan:
The Last Uncle (2002); Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems, 1968-1998; Heroes in Disguise: Poems (1991); Death of a Parent (1985)

Links: biography
Linda Pastan, poet laureate of Maryland from 1991 through 1994, has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Maryland Arts Council. She has won the Dylan Thomas Award, the Di Castagnola Award, The Bess Hokin Prize of Poetry magazine, the Virginia Faulkner Award from Prairie Schooner, and a Pushcart Prize. "A Fraction of Darkness" won the Maurice English Award; "PM/AM: New and Selected Poems" was a nominee for the National Book Award; and " The Imperfect Paradise" was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Pastan lives in Potomac, Maryland. (Source:
Marilyn Nelson - April 12, 2007
Marilyn Nelson Realted Links:
Poets on the Line: Marilyn Nelson
The inaugural reader in the series was Marilyn Nelson, author of six books of poetry, including her first "For the Body" (1978), "Mama's Promises" (1985) and "The Homeplace" (1990). Working with domestic settings, memories of her own childhood and her family's history, Nelson writes poems which range in style from traditional to free verse. Her early poetry gained her critical notice as "one of the major voices of a younger generation of black poets." "The Homeplace" has been praised for the range of voices in which the poet tells her stories. Nelson has co-written books and poems for children, including "The Cat Walked Through the Casserole" (with Pamela Espeland, 1984) and has translated poetry from Danish and German. She has been awarded National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and in 1991 was a finalist in poetry for the National Book Award. She is currently a professor of English at the University of Connecticut.