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Grand Valley's Fall Arts Celebration brings Poetry Night

Posted on September 24, 2009

Grand Valley State University's Fall Arts Celebration continues with Poetry Night, an evening celebrating language, humor, and the performance of poetry with two award-winning poets, Tony Hoagland and Patricia Smith.

Open to the public with free admission, Poetry Night will be held on Thursday, October 1, at 7 p.m. in the L.V. Eberhard Center, 301 W. Fulton, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. A reception and book signing will be held in the East Lobby immediately following the program.

"Publisher's Weekly refers to Hoagland as one of the smarter, and funnier, poets of his generation," said Grand Valley's Poet-in-Residence Patricia Clark, coordinator of this event. "And Smith is a lively and vibrant poet who frequently performs with musicians, dancers, and filmmakers. Both writers are accomplished poets whose words will linger in people's minds long after the reading."

Hoagland currently teaches in the poetry program at the University of Houston. He is the author of three volumes of poetry including, What Narcissism Means to Me, as well as a collection of essays about poetry, Real Sofistakashun, all by Graywolf Press. His poems are known for their wit and irony and often deal with the follies of selfhood and manhood.

He is the winner of the 2005 O.B. Hardison Jr. Prize, awarded by the Folger Shakespeare Library. It is the only national prize to recognize a poet's teaching as well as his art.  He also received the 2005 Mark Twain Award given by the Poetry Foundation in recognition of the poet's contribution to humor in American poetry.

Smith was inducted into the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2006. The author of five acclaimed poetry volumes has been lauded by critics as a testament to the power of words to change lives. Her most recent book, Blood Dazzler, chronicles the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina. Another book, Teahouse of the Almighty, was a National Poetry Series selection and winner of the first-ever Hurston/Wright Award in Poetry.

A four-time individual champion on the National Poetry Slam - the most successful slammer in the competition's history - Smith has also been the featured poet on HBO's "Def Poetry Jam." Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals and performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Poets Stage in Stockholm and Rotterdam's Poetry International Festival.

For more information, contact Clark at (616) 331-3199. For additional Fall Arts Celebration events, call (616) 331-2180, or visit

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