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Espaillat to deliver 2006 Stephen Crane Memorial Lecture Oct. 26
Espaillat to deliver 2006 Stephen Crane Memorial Lecture Oct. 26October 26, 2006SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Acclaimed poet Rhina P. Espaillat will deliver the 2006 Stephen Crane Memorial Lecture Thursday, Oct. 26, at 5 p.m. at the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center. The lecture, “Building the Box to Dance In: The Body’s Movement and the Sources of Poetic Form,” is free and open to the public.
Celebrating one of Syracuse University’s most noteworthy alumni, the Stephen Crane Memorial Lecture is annually presented by the English department in The College of Arts and Sciences. Crane, who attended SU in 1891, is best known for his Civil War novel “The Red Badge of Courage.” This lecture is co-sponsored by the Latino-Latin American Studies department and the Dikaia Foundation of the Syracuse Chapter of Delta Upsilon fraternity. Crane was a member of the Delta Upsilon while at SU, where he is said to have drafted his novel, “Maggie, A Girl of the Streets.”
Born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, Espaillat received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1953 from Hunter College, and a master’s degree from CUNY Queens College. The author of the compelling volumes “Lapsing to Grace” (Bennett & Kitchel, 1992), “Where Horizons Go” (Truman State University Press, 1998), “Rehearsing Absence” (University of Evansville Press, 2001), “The Shadow I Dress In” (WordTech Communications, 2004) and “Playing at Stillness” (Truman State University Press, 2005), Espaillat has earned numerous honors, including the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize, the Richard Wilbur Award, the Stanzas Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award twice, and the National Poetry Award sponsored by Salmon Run Press. She has written copiously and published hundreds of poems in journals and magazines, always favoring meter, rhyme and the traditional devices of poetic composition in the English language.
Espaillat’s stellar record of accomplishments has kept the promise of her brilliant beginnings in the late 1940s. At age 16, her poetic talent brought her recognition when she became the youngest poet ever to be admitted to the Poetry Society of America. In 1953, following an open competition among college and university students from throughout New York, her poems appeared in the anthology “Riverside Poetry,” edited by the renowned poets W. H. Auden, Marianne Moore and Karl Shapiro. By the time of her first book-length publication in 1992, at age 60, she had already become recognized as a considerable formalist poet. Now, with five volumes and three chapbooks to her credit, plus a cornucopia of awards and honors, she enjoys prestige as a leading voice among the New Formalists, those American poets who over the last 25 years have influentially spearheaded the revival of meter, rhyme and other elements of classical prosody.
On Sept. 24, Espaillat received the May Sarton Award, a distinction bestowed intermittently on “a poet whose work is an inspiration to other poets” by the board of directors of the New England Poetry Club. Also in September, Garrison Keillor dedicated two segments of his acclaimed daily radio program, “The Writer’s Almanac” to poems by Espaillat. Last year, Dana Gioia chose her among the 11 living poets whose work appears in “100 Great Poets of the English Language”(Penguin,2005), the collection he edited.
Espaillat has lived in the United States since the age of seven. Achieving a prodigious command of English did not keep her from retaining her native Spanish, which she now uses to write originally in that language, to translate poetry from Spain and Latin America into English and to translate into Spanish the work of Robert Frost, among other major American poets.