Prize-Winning Poet and Cal Poly Professors to Read Work at Cal Poly May 12 and 19

Wendy Barker, poet-in-residence at the University of Texas at San Antonio, will visit Cal Poly to read from her recent book, “One Blackbird at a Time,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 12, in the Agricultural Engineering Building (No. 8), Room 123.

The following week Cal Poly English professors Jason Peters and Sarah Grieve will read from their respective works at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19,also in Room 123 in the Agricultural Engineering Building .

“One Blackbird at a Time” won the John Ciardi Award from BkMk Press. The book focuses on the complicated nature of teaching great works of literature to college students.

“Everyone has been a student, but this book gives you an intimate idea of what it’s like to be a flesh-and-blood teacher living your life in front of a classroom while talking over the most intense aspects of existence,” said Cal Poly English Professor Kevin Clark. “We may forget that teachers personally live and re-live the issues raised by the works they teach. In these poems, we get inside the head and heart of the teacher while she’s teaching.”

Poet Denise Duhamel said, “Anyone who’s ever been a student will want to read ‘One Blackbird at a Time’ to find out what it is like on the other side of the desk.”

Barker is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts and a Rockefeller residency fellowship. She is a two-time winner of The Writers’ League of Texas Book Award and received the Mary Elinore Smith Poetry Prize from The American Scholar. Barker has also been a Fulbright senior lecturer in Bulgaria, and her work has been translated into Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Bulgarian.

After the reading, Barker will answer questions about her writing and teaching.

On May 19, Cal Poly poets Peters and Grieve will give the last poetry reading of the academic year.

“We’re very happy to close out this year with two excellent poets who happen to be recently hired professors,” said Clark, who is organizing the program. “Not only are these two folks exciting makers of verse, they are also both inspiring teachers.”

Assistant Professor Peters’ poetry appears in the Hawai’i Review and Midwest Quarterly. A former editor at two literary journals, he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Emerson College in Boston and a doctorate in English from the University of Rhode Island.

Grieve is a graduate of Cal Poly and is a lecturer. Grieve’s first chapbook, “Honey My Tongue,” was published in 2014 by Palooka Press. Her poems have appeared in Waxwing, Cimarron Review, Bayou, and Missouri Review Online. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry writing from Florida State University and a doctorate in literature from Arizona State University.

After the reading, both writers will take questions about their writing and studies.

The readings are sponsored by the Cal Poly English Department and the creative writing program. They are featured presentations of Cal Poly’s Writers at Work series, a program that has been bringing poets and fiction writers to Cal Poly students for over a decade.

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