Award-winning poet Szybist reads at CSU on Sept. 17

Mary Szybist, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry, will be delivering a poetry reading on Thursday, Sept. 17, at Colorado State University.

photo of Szybist
Mary Szybist (photo by Joni Kabana)

The event, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom, is part of CSU’s Creative Writing Reading Series and is free and open to the public.

Szybist’s first collection of poetry, Granted (2003), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the 2004 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award. Her second book, Incarnadine (2013), won the National Book Award for Poetry. According to judge Kay Ryan, Syzbist’s “lovely musical touch is light and exact enough to catch the weight and grind of love. This is a hard paradox to master as she does.”

Szybist has also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Pushcart Prize in 2012. She has been awarded residencies from the MacDowell Colony and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. Her work has appeared in the Iowa Review and Denver Quarterly and was featured in Best American Poetry (2008). In 2009, she was awarded a Witter Bynner Fellowship and a literature fellowship from the NEA. She is an associate professor of English at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Ore., and is a member of the faculty at the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. She earned degrees from the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow.

“I think that a good deal of poetry and art gives us some sense of access to another’s voice, perception, texture of thought, imagination,” Szybist said in an interview with The Paris Review. “Sometimes it gives us better access to the strangeness in ourselves.”

According to Creative Writing Reading Series Director Camille Dungy, a professor in CSU’s Department of English, Szybist’s poems often take as their subjects major figures from our collective traditions and bring these seemingly tired stories vibrantly to life.

“I turn to poems to find spaces that might enlarge, rather than distill, experience,” Szybist said.

About the series

The Creative Writing Reading Series at CSU is organized by faculty in the English department and the Organization of Graduate Student Writers; Creative Writing faculty serve on a rotating basis as director of the series and faculty advisor to OGSW. The series relies on the support of the Associated Students of Colorado State University, the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Endowment, the College of Liberal Arts dean’s office, Morgan Library, CSU’s English Department, local businesses and donors.

The series has hosted an impressive array of speakers, including Beat Generation poet Gary Snyder in September 2014, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass and National Book Award finalist Brenda Hillman in April 2014. Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling memoir Wild, visited in April 2015, just before the release of the film adaptation of her book, in which Reese Witherspoon played the part of Strayed.

“We have an opportunity to bring some of the nation’s preeminent writers to Colorado State University, where our community can hear them at no cost,” Dungy said. “It’s a great chance for people from all parts of campus to spend an evening in the company of some of the most creative and influential minds of our time.”