UW Today

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May 3, 2007

Poets Bly, Espada to speak on campus May 10

Two well-known American poets, Robert Bly and Martin Espada, will speak at the UW Thursday, May 10.

Bly, 80, will present the 44th annual Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Reading at 8 p.m. in Roethke Auditorium, 130 Kane.

Author of more than 30 books of poetry, Bly attended Harvard University, where he belonged to a circle that included writers Donald Hall, Adrienne Rich, Kenneth Koch, Harold Brodky and George Plimpton.

In 1966, Bly co-founded American Writers Against the Vietnam War. In 1967, when he won the National Book Award for The Light Around the Body, he contributed his prize money to the resistance.

Bly’s best known works include Iron John: A Book about Men, which has been translated into a number of languages.

His recent poetry includes What Have I Ever Lost by Dying? Collected Prose Poems and Meditations on the Insatiable Soul. His new book, Talking Into the Ear of A Donkey, will be published next year.

The Department of English is sponsoring the evening.

Espada, 49, will speak at the second annual Reed-Osheroff Lecture, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in 120 Smith.

The lecture honors Abe Osheroff and the late Bob Reed, two Seattle-area veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, American volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

Espada, who is friends with Osheroff, calls his talk, The Poetry of the Good Fight. As part of the talk, he’ll read The Carpenter Swam to Spain, a poem in Osheroff’s honor.

According to Espada, a torpedo sank the ship Osheroff took to Spain, so he wound up swimming the last two miles. Social activism makes one’s life a poem, said Espada.

Sometimes called the Pablo Neruda of United States poetry, Espada writes about his Puerto Rican heritage as well as experiences ranging from a job as a bouncer to life as a tenant lawyer.

Espada has published 13 books as a poet, editor and translator. His eighth book of poems, The Republic of Poetry, was named one of the Best Books of 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle.