Marie Howe, NYS Poet, and Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate, to read from their work, September 17, 2013

State Poets to discuss the role of poetry in today's society

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Marie Howe, New York State Poet Photo: Brad Fowler

ALBANY, NY (09/04/2013)(readMedia)-- Marie Howe, New York State Poet (2012-2014) and Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate (2011-2014) will read from their work and discuss the role of poetry in society on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. in the Huxley Theatre, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the poets will present an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the University at Albany uptown campus. The events are free and open to the public, and are cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and Friends of the New York State Library.

Marie Howe and Sydney Lea, reigning state poets of New York and Vermont, will present a joint reading and discuss the role of poetry in today's society.

Appointed State Poet (2012 – 2014) by Governor Andrew Cuomo under the auspices of the NYS Writers Institute, Marie Howe is the author of three collections of poetry: The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008), What the Living Do (1997), and The Good Thief (1988), which was selected by Margaret Atwood for the National Poetry Series. The Rochester native and New York City resident is also the past recipient of the Lavan Younger Poets Prize of the American Academy of Poets. In 1995, she coedited the bestselling anthology, In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (with Michael Klein), which helped many AIDS victims "find their voices" as poets and storytellers. She currently teaches at NYU where she is launching a Fall 2013 course entitled "Poetry Everywhere," an immersive production class which seeks to put poetry in unexpected New York City public spaces.

Howe is widely admired for poetry that seeks answers to metaphysical questions in ordinary day-to-day experience. In her work, little incidents and inconsequential memories help to shed light on the nature of the soul and the self, as well as the meaning of life, death, love, pain, hope, despair, sin, virtue, solitude, community, impermanence and the eternal. Playwright Eve Ensler said of her most recent collection, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, "These poems made me gasp. Each one a revelation, a lifeline, a domestic galaxy. This is the poetry of our times, a guide to living on the brink of the mystical and the mundane."

Appointed Poet Laureate by Governor Peter Shumlin under the auspices of the Vermont Arts Council, Sydney Lea is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including I Was Thinking of Beauty (2013); Growing Old in Poetry: Two Poets, Two Lives (with Delaware Poet Laureate Fleda Brown, 2013); Pursuit of a Wound (2000), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; To the Bone: New and Selected Poems (1996), a co-winner of the Poet's Prize; and Prayer for the Little City (1991). The American Book Review said of To the Bone, "It's past time that this poet's memorable best work should be known and praised and analyzed and loved as well as Frost's is."

Much of his work focuses on the mystery of the natural world and the physical details of life in a rural setting. He recently published the essay collection, A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters, and Wildlife (2013). The Wall Street Journal reviewer said, "Sydney Lea is a fisherman, a hunter, a philosopher, a trainer of bird dogs, an interpreter of the past and a collector of stories. This abundance of experience shows up to good effect.... He writes memorably. His stories ring true."

The founder and long-time editor of the influential literary magazine, The New England Review, Lea is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Fulbright Foundations.

Lea is a dedicated environmental activist and serves currently as President of Downeast Lakes Land Trust, an organization dedicated to creating a million-acre wildlife preserve on the border between Maine and the province of New Brunswick. He also serves as President/Treasurer of the adult literacy organization, Central Vermont Adult Basic Education.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at