A Conversation on the Poet’s Place in Today’s Society
With poets Preston Hood, Cynthia Lowen, Lee Sharkey, and Betsy Sholl
Moderator Susan Conley
Free for MWPA and SPACE Gallery members | Suggested $5 donation for nonmembers
The American poet William Carlos Williams once wrote that “it is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”
Today, we have been misled to believe that poetry is academic and difficult, and simply doesn’t have anything to do with our everyday lives.
Join poets Preston Hood, Cynthia Lowen, Lee Sharkey, and Betsy Sholl, along with moderator Susan Conley, for a poetry reading and panel discussion about poetry’s role in society today. Should poets be observers or agitators? Is it a poet’s obligation to produce work with a social conscience? Audience questions and participation encouraged.
Presented by SPACE and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance
ABOUT THE POETS
Preston Hood served in Vietnam with SEAL Team 2 before going on to study at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences. Hood has published two collections of poetry: A Chill I Understand, which was a finalist for the 2007 Maine Literary Award for Poetry, and The Hallelujah of Listening, which won the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Poetry.
Cynthia Lowen is an award-winning filmmaker who wrote and produced the feature documentary film Bully. Lowen is also the author of The Cloud That Contained the Lightning, winner of the National Poetry Series selected by Nikky Finney. She is the recipient of the 2013 Women Authoring Change Fellowship from William Morris Entertainment, the DuPont-Columbia University Awards for Excellence in Journalism, and the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize.
Lee Sharkey stands in a weekly peace vigil with the Women in Black, an international network of feminist women calling for peace, justice, and non-violent resolutions to conflict. Sharkey is a writer, teacher, and co-editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal. Her publications include six chapbooks and four full-length volumes, including most recently Calendars of Fire. She was the recipient of the 2013 Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Award in Translation, the 2010 Maine Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts, and the 1997 Rainmaker Award in Poetry, judged by Carolyn Forché.
Besty Sholl learned peaceful protest techniques from the Quakers and today volunteers at Preble Street Soup Kitchen in Portland. Sholl served as Poet Laureate of Maine from 2006 to 2011 and is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Rough Cradle. Her new book, Otherwise Unseeable, will soon be published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Sholl’s work has won numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and currently teaches at the University of Southern Maine and in the MFA Program of Vermont College of Fine Arts.
ABOUT THE MODERATOR
Susan Conley’s new novel Paris Was the Place (Knopf 2013) traces the intersection of the lives of an American poetry teacher and six teenage refugee girls all living in Paris during the late 1980’s. Her memoir, The Foremost Good Fortune (Knopf 2011), follows the years her family lived in Beijing and encountered cancer. It won the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her poetry collection was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award. She’s received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Breadloaf Writers Conference, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. She’s on the faculty at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program and also teaches at Colby College. She’s the co-founder of The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing lab in Portland that believes children are natural storytellers who deserve an audience.