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Poet Stewart, visual artist Hamilton highlight two events

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March 6, 2017

Susan Stewart

Ann Hamilton 

Fans of the written word and multimedia presentations are in store for a mid-March treat at the College of Saint Benedict.

Poet and literary critic Susan Stewart will have a collaborative performance with visual artist Ann Hamilton at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19, at Alumnae Hall, Haehn Campus Center, CSB. The presentation will also feature filmmaker Michael Mercil.

Two days later, Stewart will hold a public reading at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at room 204, Gorecki Center, CSB. She will also be in residence March 17-22.

Stewart’s most recent collection of poetry, “Cinder: New and Selected Poems,” is the 2016 recipient of the Sister Mariella Gable Award. The book gathers poetry from across her 35-year writing career.

The award, which honors the late English professor who taught at CSB from 1928-73, is given each year by CSB for an important work of literature published by Graywolf Press. Gable played a prominent role in the development of such renowned writers as J.F. Powers, Flannery O'Connor and Betty Wahl. Outside of the classroom, she was a Dante scholar, poet, editor and writer.

“Susan Stewart may be our best contemporary thinker on poetry … she writes criticism with the grace of a poet, and poetry with a strong logos underlying its lyrical surface,” wrote Angie Mlinko in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “Both are haunted by a feel for our unknowable, primordial being, and this is no doubt what gives her work its abyssal power.”

Stewart serves as the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities and professor of English at Princeton University, where she has taught since 2004. Beginning in 2010, she has served as director of Princeton’s Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and is a member associated faculty of the Department of Art and Archaeology.

A former MacArthur Fellow, Stewart is a former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005, and in 2009 received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Her collections of poetry includes “Yellow Stars and Ice” (1981); “The Hive” (1987); “The Forrest” (1995), which received the Literary Award of the Philadelphia Atheneum; “Columnbarium” (2003), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award; and “Red Rover” (2008).

Stewart’s books of criticism include “Poetry and the Fate of Senses” (2002), which received both the 2003 Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism from Phi Beta Kappa and the 2004 Truman Capote Award in Literary Criticism; and “The Poet’s Freedom: A Notebook on Making” (2011).

Stewart also has an interest in the arts, which she will spotlight in the March 19 presentation with Hamilton and Mercil.

Hamilton and Stewart will present their collaborative pieces “Channel” and “Mirror.” Mercil, a 1972 Saint John’s Preparatory School graduate who attended Saint John’s University and is Hamilton’s spouse, will show a film that includes a poem from Stewart. All three will then discuss collaboration in the arts.

Hamilton is a visual artist known for the sensory surrounds of her large-scale multimedia installations. In 2015, she received the National Arts Medal from President Barack Obama. Among her many honors, Hamilton has been the recipient of the Heinz Award, MacArthur Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, NEA Visual Arts Fellowship, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture and the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, among many other awards.

She is a Distinguished University Professor of Art at The Ohio State University, where she has taught since 2001.

Stewart and Hamilton will also be presenting their collaborative pieces “Channel” and “Mirror” at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 18, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). The event, which is free and open to the public, is presented by Rain Taxi and Mia in collaboration with the CSB Literary Arts Institute and Graywolf Press.