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Contact: Dr. David Havird, Department of English, 318-869- 5085 or 318-869-5254, or Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120

Legendary Poet Jack Gilbert to Read at Centenary College's Meadows Museum April 19 as College Celebrates National Poetry Month

Jack Gilbert

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College will celebrate National Poetry Month with a reading by award-winning poet Jack Gilbert at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 19, at Centenary's Meadows Museum of Art. Sponsored by the Convocations Committee, the event is free and open to the public.

Gilbert, whose most recent book is The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992 (Knopf, 1994), won the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition with his first book, Views of Jeopardy, in 1962. Pristine first editions of this rare, now legendary volume sell for as much $500.

A nationwide promotional tour, which followed the publication of Views of Jeopardy, brought Gilbert much fame. His readings excited audiences as only those of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas had done in the early 1950s.

After receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964, Gilbert abandoned the reading circuit. Living abroad—in England, Denmark, and Greece—he dropped from sight. Almost two decades passed before the publication in 1982 of his second book, Monolithos: Poems, 1962 and 1982. The title, meaning "single stone," referred to the hill behind the house where Gilbert lived with his first wife, the poet Linda Gregg, on the island of Santorini in Greece.

After another decade of silence, Gilbert published his third volume, The Great Fires, to critical acclaim in 1994. During that time, Gilbert lived abroad with his second wife, Michiko Nogami, whose death is the subject of many poems. Set primarily in Greece but also in Italy, Japan, France and Denmark, other poems in The Great Fires recall other relationships and celebrate an ideal of romantic love. Still others recall Gilbert's coming of age in Pittsburgh, where he was born in 1925.

Gilbert's work has garnered high praise from critics and fellow poets. Cynthia Ozick has compared his poems with Chinese paintings and remarked on the "perfect poise of his language." Terrence Des Pres has singled out as "most remarkable the way Gilbert strikes the Mediterranean's hard lucidity into unregretful song." And James Dickey, who finds Gilbert's imagination to be "astonishing, uncompromising, and totally memorable," has described Gilbert himself as "the rarest of beings: a necessary poet, who teaches us not only how to live but to die creatively."

Gilbert now resides in western Massachusetts. He is currently a visiting writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

For further information, contact Dr. David Havird, Department of English, at 318-869-5085 or 869-5254 or dhavird@centenary.edu.

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