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USF to celebrate National Poetry Month

TAMPA, Fla. -- If National Poetry Month at the University of South Florida is not the largest event of its kind this year -- in Florida or the nation -- USF Professor Jay Hopler will be surprised. All the ingredients are there.

The USF Humanities Institute’s annual celebration features 12 poets, seven major readings, two major lectures, four poetry workshops, one organic potluck lunch/supper in the USF Botanical Gardens Poetry Garden, a day of performance art/spoken word/poetry reading in the Poetry Garden, a photography showcase and the launching of the new NPM@USF website.

Participants include President Judy Genshaft, Board of Trustees Chair John Ramil, Provost Ralph Wilcox, Coach Skip Holtz, former Tampa Mayor (and USF alumna) Pam Iorio, as well as faculty, students and staff from across the university. A different poem is featured for each day of April. “Some of the choices may surprise you!” Bird said.

According to Hopler, an associate professor of English, “we need poetry now more than ever.” Author of the award-winning book of poetry “Green Squall,” Hopler teaches courses in creative writing and poetry and is the 2010-2011 recipient of a Rome Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters/the American Academy in Rome and the 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award, He and Humanities Institute Program Assistant Elizabeth Kicak brought together all the visiting poets.

"That the University of South Florida is presenting one of the largest National Poetry Month celebrations anywhere in the country just a few short years after starting its first Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program is certainly cause for celebration,” Hopler said. “That USF could reach this important milestone at a time when education budgets are being cut almost daily and the arts seem under attack from every corner is a testament to the passion and the commitment of everyone involved: USF's amazing faculty and staff, our generous donors and sponsors, and the poets who've all agreed to read their poetry, lead workshops and teach seminars for free.”

The established poets in the lineup are impressive. Melanie Hubbard will read at 7 p.m. on the opening day, April 2, and lecture at noon the following day. Erica Dawson of the University of Tampa will read that Wednesday and will conduct a workshop the next day.

The following two weeks feature poetry readings and workshops with Eckerd College’s Helen Wallace, Florida State University’s James Kimbrell and Kenyon College’s Jennifer Clarvoe. Individual poetry readings are scheduled with John Blair, (Texas State University) and Guyanese “yogic realism” poet Sesenarine Persaud.

An all-day event on April 24, “The Future is Sustainable: Poetry, Place & Food” features noted environmental essayist Scott Russell Sanders. And at Felicitous Coffee House April 21 at 7:30 p.m., USF Creative Writing graduate students include a poetry reading in “6X6 Presents PAM Meets JAM” in celebration of both NPM and Jazz Appreciation Month.

Though not a USF-sponsored event, Hopler will read poetry at the Poetry and Jazz Fest being held at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library April 15 from 2 to 4 p.m.

There’s also a film screening. On April 9, 7 p.m. at the Marshall Student Center, room 4200, the 1994 Academy Award-winning film Il Posteno: The Postman will be shown. The connection? The great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and the power of poetry to transform lives. ?

National Poetry Month 2012 is sponsored by the Humanities Institute, and made possible by grants and generous donations from the USF Department of English, Florida Books Awards, the Florida Humanities Council, the USF Botanical Gardens, the USF Office of Sustainability and poetry lovers throughout the USF and Tampa Bay communities.

“One of the things I love the most about USF is its dedication to the arts, to its students and to the community,” Hopler said. “This grand, month-long series of poetry events is just the latest example of that dedication. I am intensely proud to be even a small part of it.”

For more information, visit the Humanities Institute's website.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Events English Humanities Institute Botanical Gardens 
Author: Barbara Melendez