OSWEGO — Rebecca Dunham — a “poet as moral witness” — will make a free presentation at 3 p.m. Nov. 26, in SUNY Oswego’s Marano Campus Center auditorium as part of the English and creative writing department’s Living Writers Series.
Often called a docu-poet, the author of five collections of poems integrates document clips, interviews and other sources in poetry that exposes the manmade component of such disasters as the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform blowout and the toll of Hurricane Katrina.
Milkweed Editions, the publisher of her collection “Cold Pastoral,” said Dunham authors “poems that adopt the pastoral and elegiac traditions in a landscape where ‘I can’t see the bugs; I don’t hear the birds’ — Dunham invokes the poet as moral witness.”
In a review of the collection, Publishers Weekly magazine wrote, “She constructs a narrative of living in a time of spectacular ruin, ecological disaster, and insidious chemical endangerment; with the poet/speaker both proximal to and removed from their effects, Dunham makes it clear that beyond her and others’ personal experiences, humans have become subject to a ruin of their own making.”
Dunham is the author of five collections of poems.
Her most recent book, “Cold Pastoral,” was published by Milkweed Editions in 2017 and her fifth, “Strike,” is forthcoming from New Issues Press in February.
Currently a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, her work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
For one of Dunham’s “Cold Pastoral” poems on the crisis in Flint, read “In Which She Considers the Water” at https://www.mprnews.org/story/2017/04/14/books-poetry-Friday.
“Rebecca Dunham’s recent book seems to intersect well with our Grand Challenge,” said Laura Donnelly of the college’s English and creative writing department, who organized the 2018 lineup of speakers.
This fall, SUNY Oswego formally kicked off its “Grand Challenge: Fresh Water for All,” a two-year campuswide initiative designed to contribute in theory and in action to finding solutions to one of the grand global challenges.
The long-running Living Writers Series each fall invites more than a half-dozen writers in a variety of genres to share their experience with a class that is required for SUNY Oswego creative writing majors and open to the public.
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For information on Oswego’s English and creative writing department, visit oswego.edu/english.