Women poets wrap up Writers Series at Sweet Briar

March 21, 2017 | Janika Carey

Poets Debra Nystrom and Ann Fisher-Wirth will visit Sweet Briar College to read from their works at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, and Tuesday, April 11, respectively. Both readings will take place in Mary Helen Cochran Library’s Browsing Room and are free and open to the public.

Debra Nystrom

Debra Nystrom

Nystrom has taught in the M.F.A. program at the University of Virginia for many years. Her poetry, she argues, is a product of growing up “among reserved farming and ranching people” in her native South Dakota.

“The sense of the unspoken was always palpable there, amid the homesteaders’ descendants, the native Lakota, and in the landscape itself,” Nystrom wrote in 2004.

“I think that my curiosity about what language can do comes from a wish to grasp — through patternings of sound, rhythm, syntax and image — the kind of meaning that is experienced physically: that can’t be easily paraphrased, but attests to the inner self which hasn’t many opportunities for expression in our culture.”

Nystrom is the author of the poetry collections “A Quarter Turn,” “Torn Sky,” “Bad River Road” and, most recently, “Night Sky Frequencies” (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016).

Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, Slate, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review and The American Poetry Review, and has been reprinted on Poetry Daily, The Writer’s Almanac and The Poetry Foundation’s American Life in Poetry.

Nystrom is the recipient of the James Dickey Award from Five Points, The Virginia Quarterly Review’s Balch Poetry Award, the James Boatwright Prize from Shenandoah and The Virginia Prize for Poetry. She has been awarded fellowships from The Virginia Commission for the Arts and The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Sweet Briar’s 2016-17 Writers Series concludes on April 11 with a reading by Southern poet Ann Fisher-Wirth. Like Nystrom, Fisher-Wirth teaches — but most of her classes have little to do with poetry: She directs the minor in environmental studies at the University of Mississippi and teaches yoga at Southern Star in Oxford. Last semester, she also team-taught a literature and creative writing course as part of the university’s Prison-to-College Pipeline Program.

Ann Fisher-Wirth

Ann Fisher-Wirth

Fisher-Wirth’s fourth book of poems is “Dream Cabinet” (Wings Press, 2012); her other collections are “Carta Marina,” “Blue Window” and “Five Terraces.” With Laura-Gray Street, she coedited the groundbreaking Ecopoetry Anthology.

Her current project is a collaborative poetry/photography manuscript called “Mississippi” with the acclaimed photographer Maude Schuyler Clay, which Wings Press will publish in 2017. Photographs and letterpress poems from this project are currently on exhibit throughout Mississippi.

Fisher-Wirth’s poems appear widely and have received numerous awards, including the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, a Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, two Mississippi Commission for the Arts Poetry Fellowships and the Mississippi Institute for Arts and Letters Poetry Award.

Fisher-Wirth has been awarded residencies at The Mesa Refuge; Djerassi Resident Artists Program; Hedgebrook; and CAMAC/Centre d’Art, Marnay, France. She is a Fellow 2015-2018 of the Black Earth Institute, the recipient of a senior Fulbright to Switzerland and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair award to Sweden, and past president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. More about Fisher-Wirth is on her website.

For more information about these authors and the Sweet Briar College Writers Series, contact John Gregory Brown, director of the creative writing program, at brown@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6434.

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