Poet laureate to visit

May 14, 2007

Kevin Stein, the Illinois Poet Laureate, will bring words of elegance to Flint during two free poetry performances May 22-23.

A poem for 2097
"Citizens, what did you find when awakened this morning?
Was the sky as blue as ours? A few sparrows rustling among lime green leaves of April. Are people fed and housed and free."

- Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein

Those are just some of the elegant words of Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein, who will share his creative art and observations when he visits Kettering University and the Flint area May 22-23. A poet laureate is an ambassador who promotes awareness of poetry and works to heighten appreciation of the art form.

Stein comes to Michigan to share both private and public poetry readings. Flint's Cultural Center will be the site for "Poetry Under The Stars," a free event on Tuesday, May 22, at Longway Planetarium. Stein, who follows in the footsteps of renowned poet Carl Sandburg, will offer a reading at 7 p.m. in the Planetarium's sky dome. The event is free and co-sponsored by Kettering University, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College and the University of Michigan-Flint.

How mundane those things that change us?

Stein's schedule includes these free public appearances:
Tuesday, May 22, 7 p.m.: Free poetry under the stars at Longway Planetarium, in Flint's Cultural Center. The event is co-sponsored by Kettering University, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College and the University of Michigan-Flint. The Planetarium is located at 1310 E. Kearsley Street in Flint.

Wednesday, May 23, 12:20 p.m.: Cultural Student Convocation in the International Room of Kettering's Campus Center, on the corner of Third and Chevrolet avenues in Flint.

During his visit to Flint, Stein will also visit two middle schools in Flint to interact with young writers. He will also lecture in two Kettering classes.

Stein will be reading from each of his three recent collections: Bruised Paradise, Chance Ransom and American Ghost Roses, all from University of Illinois Press. Stein describes poems from these collections this way:

"Poem Buried within a Time Capsule to Be Unearthed Spring 2097"
If given the chance, have you ever thought of what you might say to your fellow citizens one hundred years from now? When Bradley University buried a time capsule to celebrate its centennial, I had that challenge and that opportunity. I typed this poem on an old IBM typewriter and placed a copy of it, secretly, in my chapbook A Field of Wings," a volume to be buried within the capsule. Until now, no one else knew I'd done so.

"Past Midnight, My Daughter Awakened by Miles Davis' Kind of Blue"
I love jazz for the beauty of its improvisation. I love how it builds a whole from wandering parts. I love how its movements - while wonderfully non-linear - can seem at once inevitable and complete. And blue is my mother's favorite color. Sometimes mine, too.

The University of Missouri Press (Columbia and London) said this about Stein's Circus of Want: "Kevin Stein's poems celebrate desire in its various forms. He moves sinuously among the particulars of daily life - with grace and intelligence, he asks what the ostensibly discrete details amount to ... he composes an absorbing record of human want."

About Kevin Stein

Stein is the Caterpillar Professor of English at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. He was named the Illinois Poet Laureate in December 2003 to the position previously held by noted writers Carl Sandburg, Howard Austin and Gwendolyn Brooks.

He came to Bradley in 1984 from Indiana University, where he earned a Ph.D. in American literature and a master's degree in Creative Writing. Stein teaches a range of graduate and undergraduate courses in American literature, including Ecstatic Dialogics: Poetry and Ecstasy; The Contemporary American Narrative Poem; Men, Women, and the Family in American literature; James Wright and Philip Levine: The Poetry of Work, and the Work of Poetry; and Public and Private History in Contemporary American Poetry. He also serves as director of Bradley's vital Creative Writing Program, leading workshops ranging from the introductory level to the capstone course, in which students write and design a chapbook of their own poetry.

Poet laureate is one of many honors and accolades Kevin Stein has earned during his career as poet, critic, editor, and teacher. He is the author of six poetry collections, three scholarly books, numerous poems and essays published in prestigious journals and anthologies.

Stein?s poetry has been honored with the Frederick Bock Prize awarded by Poetry, the 1998 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, the Devins Award for Poetry for his collection A Circus of Want, and three Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards. In addition, Stein has been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and three such fellowships granted by the Illinois Arts Council, as well as grant support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2004 he was awarded the Vernon Louis Parrington Medal for Distinguished Writing. His poems and essays have appeared widely in journals such as American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Colorado Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Southern Review and TriQuarterly.

In addition to writing poetry, Stein has pursued a lively scholarly career as literary critic. Stein's scholarly works enhance readers' appreciation for his fellow poets' art. One such work, Private Poets, Worldly Acts, examines the intersection of public and private history in the work of nine American poets, including Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich, Frank O'Hara, and Yusef Komunyakaa. This volume was named a 1997 Recommended Book by amazon.com, the citation applauding how the book's "insightful visions" lift readers "beyond just reading a poem - to reading between its lines." Also, Stein's James Wright: The Poetry of a Grown Man remains the benchmark study of this important American poet.

Stein extended his scholarly interests by editing Illinois Voices: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Poetry. Co-edited with poet G.E. Murray, this book offers the first comprehensive anthology of Illinois poetry's rich twentieth-century heritage. Following the publication of Illinois Voices, Stein and Murray traveled throughout the state to lead discussions and readings from the anthology at libraries in locales such as Chicago, Charleston, Peoria, Springfield, and Urbana.

For more on Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein site, visit: http://www.poetlaureate.il.gov/

Contact: Pat Mroczek