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Forche replaces Duffy for Poetry Night

Posted on October 14, 2010

Due to unforeseen circumstances Great Britain Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy will be unable, as previously scheduled, to join poet Bob Hicok for Poetry Night at Grand Valley State University.

The popular Fall Arts Celebration event will feature, for Grand Valley's 50th Anniversary, two home-grown Michigan writers who have gone on to achieve national and international acclaim. “An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Carolyn Forché and Bob Hicok,” is planned for Thursday, October 21, at 7 p.m., on the second floor of the Eberhard Center, 301 West Fulton, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. The event is free and open to the public. 


Forché was born in Detroit in 1950, studied at Michigan State University and received an MFA from Bowling Green State University. She is currently the Lannan Visiting Professor of Poetry and Professor of English at Georgetown University.


Forché is the author of four books of poetry. Her first, Gathering The Tribes, received the Yale Younger Poets Award. The Country Between Us was chosen as the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets, The Angel of History won the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and Blue Hour was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.


Known as a “poet of witness,” Forché traveled to Spain in 1977 to translate the work of Salvadoran-exiled poet Claribel Alegria, and received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship when she returned. She has received three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and other literary and teaching awards.


The evening will also include Bob Hicok, a Michigan native who attended Grand Valley in the early 1980s as a student in William James College. Hicok said he remembers those years as a time “when I had hair,” but also an exciting time at what was then Grand Valley State Colleges. “I was given a great deal of freedom, and access to professors was extensive. I remember Robert Burns, Roz and Robert Mayberry, Stephen Rowe, all of them fondly, all of them as people who loved ideas and discussing them,” he said. 


Hicok later received an MFA from Vermont College. He has taught creative writing at Western Michigan University and is now an associate professor in the creative writing program at Virginia Tech University. He had worked for nearly two decades as an automotive die designer and eventually owned his own business. His poetry skill was once described in the New York Times Book Review as being somewhere between those of the surgeon and the gods of the foundry and convalescent homes.  


A recipient of many awards, including four Pushcart Prizes, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Hicok's poetry has been selected for inclusion in six volumes of Best American Poetry. His newest book is Words for Empty and Words for Full (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010). Of his other books, This Clumsy Living was awarded the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, Animal Soul was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Legend of Light received the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry and was named a 1997 ALA Booklist Notable Book of the Year.  


Limited edition broadsides of a poem by each author will be available at the event, while supplies last. Books by both poets will be available for sale and signing after the performance. 


Generous support and commitment to Fall Arts Celebration 2010 have been provided by Ginny Gearhart and the Gearhart Family, Liesel and Hank Meijer, Elaine and Larry Shay, and Judy and Peter Theune. For more information about this or additional Fall Arts Celebration events, visit, or call (616) 331-2180. Learn about Grand Valley's 50th Anniversary at

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