University of Richmond will host a poetry festival April 4-5 in celebration of National Poetry Month. The five poets featured were chosen to help raise the voices of new writers and give insight to the varying experiences represented in American poetry.

“These five acclaimed poets, who recently published their first books, are already making enormous contributions to contemporary literature,” said Brian Henry, professor of English and creative writing. “We will be reading their poetry for decades.” 

The Poetry Festival is the spring installment of the 2017 Department of English Writers Series, which aims to expose members of the community to today’s most celebrated writers.

Events include:

Readings from Camille Rankine and Chen Chen: April 4, 7 p.m.

Camille Rankine’s poetry focuses on uplifting the voices of those who have been marginalized or oppressed and creating open communication between people. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, and she recently published a book, “Incorrect Merciful Impulses.” Rankine works with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is a visiting professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst’s MFA for Poets and Writers.

Chen Chen is the author of “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities,” winner of the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize. Chen is a Kundiman and Lambda Literary Fellow and currently works on a journal that he co-founded.

Panel discussion: April 5, 4 p.m.

All five poets will discuss the role of poetry today.  

Readings from Anaïs Duplan, Tarfia Faizulla and Peter LaBerge: April 5, 7 p.m.

Anaïs Duplan was a permanent resident alien in the U.S. from 1992 to 2015, an experience that greatly influenced her work. Her poetry explores feelings of estrangement, womanhood, statelessness and coping with death. Duplan developed the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, a residency program for artists of color, and the Spacesuits, an ongoing multimedia collaboration about paradise and creation.

Tarfia Faizullah is a poet, author and educator. Her recent book, “Seam,” explores the ethics of interviewing and issues of war, violence and memory through the story of the birangona, Bangladeshi women raped by Pakistani soldiers during the Liberation War of 1971. Faizullah co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press and Video Series.

Peter LaBerge is the author of two chapbooks, “Makeshift Cathedral” and “Hook,” recently included in the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the Bucknell University Stadler Center for Poetry and the founder and editor-in-chief of “The Adroit Journal.” LaBerge is an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.

All events are free and open to the public and will take place in Weinstein Hall, Brown-Alley Room.

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