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National Book Award Finalist Marilyn Nelson inaugurates “Necessary Voices” lecture series at the University of Bridgeport on Thursday, September 15

Leslie Geary
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Marilyn Nelson, former Poet Laureate of Connecticut and National Book Award Finalist, will give the first reading of the year at Necessary Voices, the University of Bridgeport lecture series on arts and ideas.

Daughters, 1900

Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.

She lectures them: the younger daughters search
the sky, elbow each others' ribs, and groan.
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch

and blue-sprigged dresses, like a stand of birch
saplings whose leaves are going yellow-brown
with new truths. They can hardly wait to teach,

themselves, to be called "Ma'am," to march
high-heeled across the hanging bridge to town.
Five daughters. In the slant light on the porch

Pomp lowers his paper for a while, to watch
the beauties he's begotten with his Ann:
these new truths they can hardly wait to teach.

The eldest sniffs, "A lady doesn't scratch."
The third snorts back, "Knock, knock: nobody home."
The fourth concedes, "Well, maybe not in church
"
Five daughters in the slant light on the porch.


—Marilyn Nelson
Marilyn Nelson, former Poet Laureate of Connecticut and National Book Award Finalist, will give the first reading of the year at Necessary Voices, the University of Bridgeport lecture series on arts and ideas.

Ms. Nelson will appear at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 15 at du Pont Tower Room, at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design, 84 Iranistan Avenue.

The event is free and open to the public. For additional information and to learn more about upcoming Necessary Voices lectures, go to www.bridgeport.edu/voices.

Ms. Nelson is the author or translator of 14 books and five chapbooks. Her book The Homeplace won the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award. The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems won the 1998 Poets' Prize and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, the PEN Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize. The poems in this collection embrace numerous themes, including the changing nature of love, racism, motherhood, marriage, and domesticity.

Ms. Nelson’s writing has been hailed for “inhabit[ing] the voices of the overlooked and disenfranchised and shines light into forgotten corners that reveal essential truths about the whole. . . . [I]f she is a revisionist historian’s poet, she is also a child’s poet, a mother’s poet, a housekeeper’s poet, and scientist’s poet. . . . It’s this breadth of perspective, from pole to pole, past to present, from spheres domestic to atmospheric, that make her so remarkable. Nelson is also an openhanded citizen of the nation of writers."

Ms. Nelson’s numerous awards include the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and Flora Stieglitz Straus Award Carver: A Life In Poems, which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Her book Fortune’s Bones was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. Her young adult book, A Wreath For Emmett Till, won the 2005 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and was a 2006 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a 2006 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and a 2006 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book. The Cachoiera Tales And Other Poems won the L.E. Phillabaum Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

She has also published collections of verse for children including: Snook Alone (Candlewick Press, 2010); Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World, (Dial Books, 2009); The Freedom Business: Including A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa (Front Street, 2008); The Cat Walked through the Casserole and Other Poems for Children (with Pamela Espeland, 1984) and Halfdan Rasmussen's Hundreds of Hens and Other Poems for Children (1982), which she translated from Danish with Pamela Espeland.

Other honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, the Department of the Army's Commander's Award for Public Service, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Nelson is a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut; was (2004-2010) founder/director and host of Soul Mountain Retreat, a small non-profit writers' colony; and held the office of Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.


Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu