March 24, 2022

Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing presents a reading by Marilyn Nelson and Brontez Purnell

The 2021-2022 Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University, concludes with an in-person reading by Marilyn Nelson, a three-time finalist for the National Book Award, and Brontez Purnell, recipient of a 2018 Whiting Award for Fiction. The reading will take place on Tuesday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. The event is free and open to the public, however, advance tickets are required through University Ticketing. All guests are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to the maximum extent, which now includes a COVID booster shot for all eligible to receive it, and to wear a mask when indoors. This event will be open- captioned and the venue is wheelchair accessible. Guests in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at least one week in advance at

marilyn nelson smiles with short crop hair and black crewneck sweater

Marilyn Nelson. Photo Credit: Curt Richter

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of 18 books of poetry for adults and children, five chapbooks, and her memoir, How I Discovered Poetry, published in 2014 and named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. The memoir is a collection of 50 poems about growing up in the 1950’s in a military family, each poem stamped with a place and date from the many places her family lived. Nelson’s The Homeplace won the 1992 Anisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award. The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 Poets’ Prize and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, the PEN Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize. Carver: A Life in Poems won the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, and named a Newbery Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Fortune’s Bones was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. The Cachoiera Tales and Other Poems won the L.E. Phillabaum Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Nelson has also published nine books for children and young adults including, A Wreath for Emmett Till, which won the 2005 Boston Globe Horn Book Award and was a 2006 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a 2006 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and a 2006 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book; and My Seneca Village, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Young Adult Literature. Additionally, Nelson worked with Pamela Espeland to translate Halfdan Rasmussen’s Hundreds of Hens and Other Poems for Children from Danish to English. Nelson is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowships, the 2019 Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, the Department of the Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Frost Medal, the Poetry Society of America’s most prestigious award, for “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.” Nelson held the office of Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.

brontez purnell lays with eyes closed and head on brightly patterned pillow

Brontez Purnell. Photo courtesy of Brontez Purnell

Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist born in Triana, Alabama, and now living in Oakland, California. Purnell is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children’s book, and the novels Since I Laid My Burden Down and 100 Boyfriends. He won the 2018 Whiting Award for Fiction for Since I Laid My Burden Down, which Art in America Magazine hailed as “a rich tapestry of character study,” and Fiction Advocate calls “one of the most unflinching and bone-true” novels of the year. Of 100 Boyfriends, The New York Times praises it as a “hurricane of delirious, lonely, lewd tales [that] is a taxonomy and grand unified theory of the boyfriend, in every tense.” In 2018, Purnell was named one of the 32 Black Male Writers for Our Time by T: New York Times Style Magazine. He is also the front man for the band Younger Lovers, the co-founder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and, most recently, the documentary Unstoppable Feat: Dances of Ed Mock. Purnell is the 2022 winner of the Robert Rauschenberg Award for Risk Taking in Art from the Foundation of Contemporary Art in New York.

The Lewis Center’s Program in Creative Writing annually presents the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, which provides an opportunity for students, as well as all in the greater Princeton region, to hear and meet the best contemporary writers. The series is organized by Lecturer in Creative Writing and award-winning poet Michael Dickman. All readings are at 7:30 p.m. in venues in the Lewis Arts complex and are free and open to the public.

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