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Poets Simon Armitage and Tony Hoagland Read at Princeton

(Princeton, NJ)  Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing will open its Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series on Wednesday, September 23 with readings by poets Simon Armitage and Tony Hoagland. The readings will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the James M. Stewart Theater ’32 located in the Lewis Center for the Arts at 185 Nassau Street. The event is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will be held after the readings.

Both British poet, novelist and translator Simon Armitage and American poet Tony Hoagland are known for their wit and the brilliant way they mix formal and common language especially when addressing contemporary issues. The Sunday Times in England wrote “Armitage creates a muscular but elegant language of his own out of slangy, youthful, up-to-the minute jargon and the vernacular of his native Northern England. He combines this with an easily worn erudition…and the benefit on unblinkered experience…to produce poems of moving originality.”  Poets & Writers said “It’s hard to imagine any aspect of contemporary American life that couldn’t make its way into the writing of Tony Hoagland or a word in common or formal usage he would shy away from. He is a poet of risk: he risks wild laughter in poems that are totally heartfelt, poems you want to read out loud to anyone who needs to know the score and even more so to those who think they know the score. The framework of his writing is immense, almost as large as the tarnished nation he wandered into under the star of poetry.”

Born in Huddersfield, England in 1963, Armitage, who studied Geography at Postsmouth Polytechnic and social work at Manchester University, worked as a probation officer until 1994 before turning to a career as a freelance writer, broadcaster and playwright.

Poetry Review called Armitage “the front man of his generation…the most imaginative and prolific poet now writing.” Armitage has authored numerous collections of poetry which include Zoom! (1989), Kid (1992), Book of Matches (1993), Dead Sea Poems (1995), CloudCukooLand (1997), The Shout: Selected Poems (2005) and The Not Dead (2008). He is also the author of All Points North, a collection of essays about the north of England, Gig (2008), a memoir of a life of music and poetry and two novels, Little Green Man (2001) and The White Stuff (2004). The Poetry of Birds, a collection of poetry Armitage edited with Tim Dee, is due to be published in later this year. He also translated the Greek epic Homer’s Odyssey (2006) and the English classic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2007). Armitage has written extensively for radio, television, film and theater. He also wrote a libretto for the opera The Assassin Tree and currently plays in a rock band.

Armitage is the recipient numerous prizes and awards including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, a Gregory Award, a Forward Prize and a Lannan Award. His work has been shortlisted three times for the Whitebread Poetry Award, twice shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and once for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Armitage became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, and has previously taught at the University of Leeds and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

American award-winning poet Tony Hoagland has been widely recognized for his teaching as well as his writing. Hoagland is the 2005 recipient of the O.B. Hardison Jr. Prize awarded by the Folger Shakespeare Library, which is the only national prize to recognize a poet’s teaching as well as his art. He also received the 2005 Mark Twain Award, given by the Poetry Foundation in recognition of a poet’s contribution to humor in American poetry. Stephen Young of the Poetry Foundation commented “There is nothing escapist or diversionary about Tony Hoagland’s poetry. Here’s misery, death, envy, hypocrisy and vanity. But the still sad music of humanity is played with such a light touch on an instrument so sympathetically tuned that one can’t help but laugh. Wit and morality rarely consort these days; its good to see them happily, often hilariously reunited in the winner’s poetry.” He is the 2008 recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize, awarded by Poets and Writers magazine that honors an American poet of exceptional talent who has published at least one book of recognized literary merit but has not yet received major national acclaim.

Hoagland’s three volumes of poetry include Sweet Ruin (1992), winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry; Donkey Gospel (1998), winner of the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets; and What Naricissism Means to Me (2003), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His fourth volume, Unincorporated Persons of the Late Honda Dynasty, is scheduled to be published in January 2010.

Tony Hoagland has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment on the Arts, and the Academy of Arts and Letters. He currently teaches poetry in the graduate writing program of the University of Houston.

Princeton’s popular Althea Ward Clark W ’21 Reading Series, sponsored by the Lewis Center for the Arts Program in Creative Writing, bring writers of national and international prominence to the University each semester. In doing so, the University provides opportunity for students and all in the greater Princeton residential community to hear and meet the best writers of contemporary poetry and fiction. Learn more about the Program in Creative Writing and the Althea Ward Clark W ’21 Reading Series.

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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