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Allen Neff Memorial Poetry Reading

Allen Neff Memorial Poetry Reading to feature poet D. Nurkse

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014
5 p.m.
Doudna Fine Arts Center Recital Hall

D. Nurske

D. Nurkse will be the featured poet at this year’s Allen Neff Memorial Poetry Reading to be held on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

The reading will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 in the Recital Hall at the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Nurkse is the author of 10 books of poetry, including his latest works, “A Night in Brooklyn,” “The Border Kingdom,” “Burnt Island,” and “The Fall.”

He is the recipient of a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship in poetry, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, the Whiting Writers Award, and prizes from The Poetry Foundation and the Tanne Foundation.

From 1996 to 2001, he served as poet laureate of Brooklyn, and Bold Type Magazine has characterized Nurkse as “a poet long admired in the smoky biosphere of the New York poetry scene.”

“His reputation extends way beyond New York, however,” said English professor Daiva Markelis. “His lyric poems, accessible and intimate, have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, and many others. His topics include love, desire, family, and the effects of war.”

Nurkse currently teaches courses in the Master of Fine Arts Writing Program at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. He has also taught poetry at MFA programs at other institutions, worked for human rights organizations, and served on the board of directors of Amnesty International USA from 2007 to 2010.

“It’s an honor to have Nurkse here,” Markelis said. “This is going to be a fantastic reading.”

As a teacher and writer, Allen Neff introduced hundreds of EIU students to the joys of creative writing. He was a member of the Department of English from 1967 to 1977, until his death at age 47. During his time at EIU, he was a member of the Illinois Arts Council Writers-in-Residence Program; lectured and read before professional and non-professional groups across the country; published poetry; and edited EIU's literary journal, Karamu, which is still published by the Department of English although the name has changed to Bluestem.

The Allen Neff Memorial Fund was established by the Department of English in cooperation with the EIU Foundation in order to establish a continuing series of readings and lectures by major writers from across the country. This fund has brought writers to EIU's campus every year since 1984.

“This fund has made it possible for the Department of English to bring to the campus and the community simply tremendous writers, most of whom have also been highly honored with awards that include the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Genius Award, U.S. Poet Laureate, even the Nobel Prize in Literature,” said Dana Ringuette, chair of the Department of English. “Bruce Guernsey, emeritus professor of English, recommended that we invite Nurkse here, entirely fitting because it was Bruce who was crucial to getting the Neff reading series established and for its success.”

“For someone like me who lives in the country, Nurkse’s poetry makes the urban world human, generous, and possible,” Guernsey said. “He seeks and somehow finds intimacy and warmth in all that concrete.”

The Allen Neff Memorial Poetry Reading is sponsored by the EIU Department of English. The public is welcome to attend the free event.

For more information on the Allen Neff Memorial Poetry Reading, contact the Department of English at 217-581-2428. Additional information about D. Nurkse is available at www.dnurkse.net.