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For Immediate Release

Poetry Foundation and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Present Make It News: A Symposium on Poetry and Journalism

October 23rd, 2007

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism are pleased to announce “Make It News: A Symposium on Poetry and Journalism.” The first in a series of collaborations between the two organizations, the symposium will feature two panels that look at what makes poetry newsworthy—and what makes news poetic.

When: Thursday, November 8, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Doors open at 4:15 for coffee and refreshments.

5:00 p.m. Welcome by Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation

5:15 p.m. Covering Poetry: Past, Present and Future
Poets bemoan the scant coverage that poetry receives in the media, pointing to an earlier golden age when the literary form was more widely covered. Panel speakers will examine past and current poetry coverage and project its future:

  • Adam Kirsch, noted critic whose essays appear in The New York Times and The New Yorker
  • Meghan O’Rourke, culture editor of Slate
  • Joan Shelley Rubin, cultural historian
  • Reginald Shepherd, popular poetry blogger with five books of poetry

7:00 p.m. Poet as Journalist/Journalist as Poet
Increasingly, poets are writing documentary poems that “report” on an event. Many journalists also turn to poetic prose in order to convey a perspective that cannot otherwise be presented. Speakers on this panel will discuss what poets and journalists can learn from each other as these trends continue to grow.
  • Elizabeth Alexander, poet and professor of African American poetry at Yale
  • Mark Nowak, poet whose work documents factory plant closings
  • Thulani Davis, journalist, author, and poet
  • David Tucker, poet and deputy managing editor of the New Jersey Star-Ledger

Where: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Lecture Hall, 116th Street and Broadway, New York City


About the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
For almost a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists in a program that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry, and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer in 1903, the school offers master of science, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees. For more information, visit http://www.journalism.columbia.edu.

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit www.poetryfoundation.org.

About the Panelists
Elizabeth Alexander
, an associate professor of African American studies at Yale, is the author of four books of poems: American Sublime, a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize; The Venus Hottentot; Antebellum Dream Book; and Body of Life. Her essays and reviews have been published in the Village Voice, the Washington Post, Signs, the Women’s Review of Books, and many other outlets. She is a recent recipient of the Jackson Prize, which honors an American poet of exceptional talent.

Thulani Davis is a journalist and author whose newest book, My Confederate Kinfolk, is a memoir exploring her family’s black and white roots in America during and after the Civil War. Her other works include two novels, 1959 and Maker of Saints, several plays, the scripts for the films Paid in Full and Maker of Saints, two volumes of poetry, two libretti and several award-winning PBS documentaries. She has been a Staff Writer and Senior Editor at the Village Voice and has written for a wide array of national publications.

Adam Kirsch is the author of a book of poems, The Thousand Wells, which won the New Criterion Poetry Prize; and a critical study, The Wounded Surgeon. His second collection of poems and a collection of his essays will be published in 2008. He is a book critic for the New York Sun.

Mark Nowak is the author of Revenants, Shut Up Shut Down, and the forthcoming Coal Mountain Elementary, all from Coffee House Press; editor of XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics; and founding director of the Union of Radical Workers and Writers. He is currently facilitating “poetry dialogues” between Ford autoworkers at a plant closing in St. Paul, Minnesota, and plants in Port Elizabeth and Pretoria, South Africa.

Meghan O’Rourke is the literary editor at Slate and a co-poetry editor of The Paris Review. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, The Nation, The Kenyon Review, and other venues. She is the recipient of the 2005 Union League and Civic Arts Foundation Award from Poetry. Her first book of poems, Halflife, was recently published by W.W. Norton.

Joan Shelley Rubin, professor of history at the University of Rochester, is the author of Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America (Harvard University Press, 2007), for which she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her other publications include The Making of Middlebrow Culture (1992), Constance Rourke and American Culture (1980), and numerous articles. She is co-editor of The Enduring Book, a forthcoming volume of A History of the Book in America (University of North Carolina Press).

Reginald Shepherd is the author of five books of poetry, all published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, including Fata Morgana (2007); Otherhood (2003), a finalist for the 2004 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Some Are Drowning (1994), winner of the 1993 Associated Writing Programs’ Award in Poetry. He is the editor of The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press, 2004) and of Lyric Postmodernisms, to be published by Counterpath Press in 2008. His essay collection Orpheus in the Bronx is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press in 2008.

David Tucker is a journalist and poet. His book Late for Work, published last year by Houghton Mifflin, won the 2005 Bakeless Prize, selected by Philip Levine. This year he was one of two poets awarded a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, selected by Poet Laureate Donald Hall. During his career as a journalist Tucker has worked as managing editor at United Press International, served as sports editor and later city editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and is now deputy managing editor at the New Jersey Star-Ledger, supervising investigations and projects. He was part of the Ledger team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.

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