Poet Ellen Bryant Voigt to Appear at Hamilton College
Voigt's most recent collection of poetry, Kyrie, a finalist for the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award, takes us back to an almost forgotten point in history, the influenza outbreaks of 1918-19. Also known as the "Spanish" flu, this pandemic came in the wake of WWI and claimed over 25 million lives worldwide, there were half a million deaths in the United States alone.
In 50 poems told in a series of overlapping voices, Voigt positions Kyrie as an unspoken metaphor for the AIDS epidemic and captures the pain, fear and anguish that only disease can bring to the human spirit.
Caroline Finkelstein writing in the Harvard Review said "there is wisdom in this collection: it shows us both the particular and the universal, and informs us how often they prove to be the same."
A former professor of writing at the University of Iowa and Goddard College, Voigt has published five books of her own poems, including The Lotus Flowers (1987) and Two Trees (1992). Her second collection The Forces of Plenty (1983) was recently reissued by Carnegie Mellon.
The winner of several awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, Voigt currently teaches at the M.F.A. program at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic and The Nation, as well as numerous literary journals. Voigt's presentation is part of the Reading Series at Hamilton which is sponsored by the department of English. The most recent guests of the Reading Series include author Brett Lott and world renowned poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.