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Acclaimed poets to read from works interpreting experience of American culture: Poetry reading Nov. 14 at WCSU features Espada and Schmidt

DANBURY, CONN. — Critically acclaimed poets Martin Espada and Lauren Marie Schmidt will read from their works and respond to audience questions during a presentation at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at Western Connecticut State University.

image of Martin Espada
Martin Espada

Espada and Schmidt will present the poetry reading followed by a Q&A session in the Student Center Theater on the university’s Midtown campus 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend. A reception for the two poets will precede the reading at 5 p.m. in the Danbury Room of the Midtown Student Center. Reservations to attend the reception may be made by contacting the WCSU Office of Diversity and Equity at

Sponsors for the event include the WCSU Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program, and the departments of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process and World Languages and Cultures. Support is also provided by the WCSU Office of Diversity and Equity.

image of Lauren Marie Schmidt
Lauren Marie Schmidt

The presentation will feature diverse selections of poetry by Espada and Schmidt from their works, which interpret contemporary experiences of American culture and share a common passion for social change and activism. The poets invite participants to join them in examining interpretations of social change in America from a fresh perspective and in exploring individual contributions to both unity and diversity.

Espada, among the most significant and widely published poets of his generation, has received credit for more than 20 books as a poet, essayist, editor and translator. He has published 14 poetry collections over the past four decades, most recently the 2016 release by W.W. Norton of “Vivas to Those Who Have Failed.” He is the editor of the poetry anthology published this fall by Northwestern University Press, “What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump.”

His 2006 collection “The Republic of Poetry” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and the title poem from his 2003 collection “Alabanza” has been widely performed and published in anthologies. His 1998 book of essays about social injustice, “Zapata’s Disciple,” received the Independent Publisher Book Award and has been the subject of bans in Arizona and Texas. He has earned numerous honors including the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award and an American Book Award. He also has been recognized as the recipient of Academy of American Poets, PEN/Revson and Guggenheim fellowships.

Espada formerly served as a lawyer representing tenants from the Latino community in the greater Boston metropolitan area. He is currently a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Schmidt is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently “Filthy Labors” published in 2017 by Northwestern University Press. Her work “Psalms of the Dining Room” presents a sequence of poems about her volunteer experience at a soup kitchen in Eugene, Oregon. Other collections include “Two Black Eyes and a Patch of Hair Missing” and “The Voodoo Doll Parade,” selected for the Main Street Rag Author’s Choice Chapbook Series.

Schmidt’s poetry has received recognitions including the So to Speak Poetry Prize, the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor, the Janet B. McCabe Prize for Poetry and the Vilcek Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in journals including North American Review, Nimrod, Painted Bride Quarterly, New York Quarterly, Bellevue Literary Review and The Progressive.

For more information, contact Professor and Chair of the Department of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process Dr. Brian Clements at (203) 837-8876 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.