University of Pittsburgh
March 21, 2004

Pitt's Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series to Host Poets Elizabeth Alexander, Harryette Mullen, And Marilyn Nelson April 1

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Poets Elizabeth Alexander, Harryette Mullen, and Marilyn Nelson will give a free talk and reading April 1 as part of the University of Pittsburgh Writing Program's Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series. The talk, titled "Re-Making Contemporary American Poetry: African American Women Poets," will be held at 3 p.m. in the Cathedral of Learning, Room 501, Fifth Avenue, and the reading is at 8:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Room 125, Schenley Drive, Oakland.

Alexander, a poet and short story writer, was born in 1962 in Harlem, N.Y., and grew up in Washington, D.C. She has published several poetry compilations, including Antebellum Dream Book (Graywolf Press, 2001), Body of Life (Graywolf Press, 1996), and The Venus Hottentot (Graywolf Press, 1990). Her work has appeared in such magazines and periodicals as The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, The Village Voice, The Women's Review of Books, and The Washington Post.

Alexander received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University, the Master of Arts degree from Boston University, and earned the Ph.D. degree in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Alexander teaches at Yale University and for the Cave Canem Poetry Workshop, a program that provides African American poets and teachers the opportunity to work with accomplished poets.

Born in Florence, Ala., and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Mullen strives to "transform the materials of orality into text." Her collections of poetry include Muse & Drudge (Singing Horse, 1995), S*PeRM**K*T (Singing Horse, 1992), Trimmings (Singing Horse, 1991), and Tree Tall Woman (Singing Horse, 1981).

A widely published essayist and poet, Mullen has had her work appear in Agni Review, Antioch Review, Arras, Big Allis, Black Renaissance, Bombay Gin, Chain, Epoch, Furnitures, Hambone, Hole, La Jornada Semanal, Long News in the Short Century, Paranassus, Proliferation, Prosodia, Voice Literary Supplement, and The World.

Mullen has received artist grants from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, along with the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry and a Rockefeller Fellowship from the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Women's Studies at the University of Rochester.

Mullen earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the University of Texas, Austin, and the Master of Arts degree and the Ph.D. degree in literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She teaches African American literature and creative writing at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Nelson, an award-winning poet, was born in 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio. She was brought up on various military bases because her father was in the U.S. Air Force. Nelson, who began writing in elementary school, earned the Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California, Davis, the Master of Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Ph.D. degree at the University of Minnesota.

Nelson's poetry compilations include For the Body (Louisiana State University (LSU) Press, 1978), Mama's Promises (LSU Press, 1985), The Homeplace (LSU Press, 1990), Magnificat (LSU Press, 1994), The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems (LSU Press, 1997), and Carver: A Life In Poems (Front Street Books, 2001).

The recipient of two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, an American Council of Learned Societies Contemplative Practices Fellowship, and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Nelson has won two Pushcart Prizes and the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award. She has been teaching English at the University of Connecticut since 1978. In 2001, she was appointed State Poet Laureate by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

The Contemporary Writers Series is sponsored by Pitt's Department of English, Film Studies Program, Composition Program, The Book Center, University of Pittsburgh Press, and The Wyndham Garden Hotel.

For more information, call 412-624-6506.