Bennington College receives $4 million gift to support poetry initiative

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Bennington College receives $4 million gift to support poetry initiative

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:12pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Poetry at Bennington, a program of short-term residencies that brings established and emerging poets to Bennington College for public readings and close work with students, has been endowed with a gift of $4 million from longstanding donors to the college. This gift advances the endowment goal of the recently announced $150 million Bennington College capital campaign.

Since it was established in 2012, Poetry at Bennington has brought more than 50 poets to campus, including Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winners, along with a diverse range of emerging and established poets. During the short-term residencies, the poets give public readings and engage directly with students through question-and-answer sessions, craft lectures, master classes, group writing exercises, and individual consultations. The events are free and and regularly attract students from neighboring colleges, as well as poetry enthusiasts across southern Vermont and western Massachusetts.

Previous visiting poets have included Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award Winners Timothy Donnelly, Ross Gay, Matthea Harvey, and Dawn Lundy Martin; Poets Laureate Charles Simic, Mark Strand, and Natasha Trethewey; MacArthur “Genius” Grant Award Winners C.D. Wright and Claudia Rankine; National Book Award Winners Daniel Borzutzky, Robin Coste Lewis, Mark Doty, and Terrance Hayes; and Pulitzer Prize Winners Rae Armantrout and Jorie Graham.

“Bennington has an extraordinary poetry legacy: from Mary Oliver, Howard Nemerov, and W.H. Auden, who came here to teach; others, like e. e. cummings and Elizabeth Bishop, came here to read; and more, like Anne Waldman ’66, Mary Ruefle ’74, and also recent alumni like Safiya Sinclair ’10 and Anaïs Duplan ’14 came here to study and to develop their craft,” said President Mariko Silver. “Poetry at Bennington extends this legacy and allows us to bring an even greater number of renowned writers to campus and to the region. We are enormously grateful to the donors who have partnered with us to create this extraordinary program and to now ensure it will continue in perpetuity.”

“We want our students to imagine what is possible, including how they can have an active writing practice," said Poetry at Bennington Director Michael Dumanis. "Beyond giving us the opportunity to hear extraordinary poetry, these visits help form a community."

The connections forged between poets and students often last beyond the short-term residencies. Visiting poets have at times continued advising students about publishing their work and applying to graduate programs. Recent literature graduates have gone on to MFA programs at NYU, Brown, Cornell, Warren Wilson, Arizona State University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Alumni are publishing books of poetry and seeing their work appear in such journals as Boston Review and Denver Quarterly.

Spring 2019 Readings

Spring 2019 will feature residencies by poets Erica Dawson, Robert Farnsworth, Katie Ford, Tyehimba Jess, Dora Malech, and Craig Morgan Teicher.

All Poetry at Bennington public readings begin at 7:00 pm and are free, open to the public, and will take place in Tishman Lecture Hall on the College’s campus.

On Wednesday, April 17, Poetry at Bennington welcomes Erica Dawson and Dora Malech. Dawson is the author of the book-length poem When Rap Spoke Straight to God and two collections of poetry: The Small Blades Hurt, winner of the 2016 Poets’ Prize, and Big-Eyed Afraid. Malech is the author of four collections of poetry, including Stet and the forthcoming Flourish. She is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Baker Artist Award, as well as residencies from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and the Amy Clampitt Fund.

On Wednesday, April 24, Tyehimba Jess will read. Jess is the author of two books of poetry, leadbelly, a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series, and Olio, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

Poetry at Bennington continues on Wednesday, May 1 with readings from Robert Farnsworth and Craig Morgan Teicher. Farnsworth is the author of the poetry collection Rumored Islands and two previous collections from Wesleyan University Press, Three or Four Hills and a Cloud and Honest Water. Teicher is the author of the critical essays collection We Begin in Gladness and three books of poems: The Trembling Answers, which won the Academy of American Poets Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; To Keep Love Blurry; and Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems, winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry.

On Wednesday, May 8, Katie Ford’s poetry reading concludes the spring series. Ford is the author of four collections of poetry: If You Have to Go, Blood Lyrics, Colosseum, and Deposition. Blood Lyrics was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Rilke Prize. Colosseum was named among the “Best Books of 2008” by Publishers Weekly and the Virginia Quarterly Review and led to a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Larry Levis Prize.

About the Poets

Erica Dawson is the author of the book-length poem When Rap Spoke Straight to God (Tin House, 2018) and two collections of poetry: The Small Blades Hurt (Measure Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Poets’ Prize, and Big-Eyed Afraid (Waywiser, 2007). Her work has won a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in three editions of Best American Poetry, Bennington Review, Blackbird, Harvard Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She is Associate Professor at University of Tampa and Director of the University of Tampa low-residency MFA program.

Robert Farnsworth is the author of the poetry collection Rumored Islands (Harbor Mountain Press, 2010) and two previous collections from Wesleyan University Press, Three Or Four Hills And A Cloud (1982) and Honest Water (1989). He is the former editor of the Phi Beta Kappa society’s literary quarterly The American Scholar and taught at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, from 1990 to 2018.

Katie Ford is the author of four collections of poetry from Graywolf Press: If You Have to Go (2018), Blood Lyrics (2014), Colosseum (2008), and Deposition (2002). Blood Lyrics was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Rilke Prize. Colosseum was named among the “Best Books of 2008” by Publishers Weekly and the Virginia Quarterly Review and led to a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Larry Levis Prize. Ford’s poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, and the Norton Introduction to Literature. She teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, leadbelly, a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series, and Olio, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Jess is the recipient of an NEA fellowship, a Whiting fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award, and a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team. He is a professor of English at College of Staten Island.

Dora Malech is the author of four collections of poetry, including Stet (Princeton University Press, 2018) and the forthcoming Flourish (Carnegie Mellon, 2020). Her work regularly appears in Bennington Review, Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, Poetry, Tin House, and The Yale Review. The recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and of the Baker Artist Award, as well as residencies from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and the Amy Clampitt Fund, she is the co-founder and former director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project and is an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Craig Morgan Teicher is the author of the collection of critical essays We Begin in Gladness (Graywolf, 2018) and three books of poems: The Trembling Answers (BOA, 2017), which won the Academy of American Poets Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; To Keep Love Blurry (BOA, 2012); and Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems, (CLP, 2007), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry. He also wrote Cradle Book: Stories and Fables (BOA, 2010) and the chapbook Ambivalence and Other Conundrums (Omnidawn, 2014). Teicher edited Once and For All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz (New Directions, 2016) and serves as a poetry editor for The Literary Review. He writes about books for many publications, including The New York Times Book Review, the LA Times, and NPR.

ABOUT BENNINGTON COLLEGE

Bennington College is a liberal arts college in southwestern Vermont that has distinguished itself as a vanguard institution within American higher education. It was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education. It is the only college to require that its students spend a term—every year—at work in the world. Bennington students work intensively with faculty to forge individual educational paths around their driving questions and interests.

Bennington is also the home of the Robert Frost Stone House Museum and the Bennington Review, a national biannual print journal of innovative, intelligent, and moving poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and film writing.

Notable literary alumni from both the undergraduate and MFA in Writing program include Donna Tartt, Brett Easton Ellis, Kiran Desai, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Pollan, Ann Goldstein, Safiya Sinclair, Anaïs Duplan, Anne Waldman, Mary Ruefle, Cynthia Sweeney, Jamie Quatro; Amy Gerstler, Morgan Jerkins, and Charles Bock.

Source: Bennington College 4.11.2019 www.bennington.edu