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11 Colleges to Participate in VMI Poetry Symposium

Institute Report,  February 2010

Following two highly successful symposia in 2008 and 2009, VMI will host its third Poetry Symposium the first week of March. Participating in classes, interviews, and workshops with cadets on March 5 will be poets R.T. Smith and Sarah Kennedy. The day will culminate in readings at 7:45 p.m. by both poets in Moody Hall Activity Room.

Smith is writer-in-residence at Washington and Lee University, where he is editor of the literary quarterly Shenandoah. He is a prize-winning poet, having twice won the Library of Virginia Poetry Book of the Year Award as well as the Pushcart Prize for Poetry, and numerous other honors. Smith has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Kennedy is an associate professor of English at Mary Baldwin College and has co-edited with Smith Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia. The author of seven books of verse, she has won numerous awards. Her most recent volume, Home Remedies, has been applauded by Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson.

Events on March 6 will include morning and afternoon concurrent sessions of student papers on poetry and original student poems delivered by their authors. The sessions will be held in Preston Library, with papers given in the Turman Room and poems read in the Periodicals Room.

At 1 p.m. in the Moody Hall Activity Room, Smith will deliver the keynote address, “Poetry: On the Threshold of the Possible.” An afternoon roundtable on poetry in Virginia will feature Smith and
Kennedy; Elizabeth Cantile, of the Virginia Commission for the Arts; and Diane Boller, cofounder of the Web site Poetry Daily in Charlottesville.

Students from 11 schools – VMI, the University of Virginia, Bridgewater College, Southern Virginia University, Hollins University, James Madison University, Roanoke College, Washington and Lee University, Lynchburg College, Sweet Briar College and Randolph College – will be making presentations. Eleven VMI cadet poets and three critics will present their work. Friday’s evening reading, Saturday’s student presentations, Smith’s keynote, and the roundtable are free of charge and are open to the public.

The symposium is sponsored by VMI’s Office of the Dean, Office of Undergraduate Research, Institute Writing Program, Department of English and Fine Arts, and Sigma Tau Delta and by the Department of English of Washington and Lee University, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.