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Coffee Night poetry and prose reading set for April 16


Virginia Poet Laureate Sofia Starnes is the key speaker at the spring semester’s Coffee Night, a reading and performing event dedicated to the poetry and prose of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and community creative writers.

The event, sponsored by the Department of Language and Literature, the Department of Communication Studies, and the Jimson Weed staff, is set for Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Chapel of All Faiths. Starnes will also give a poet laureate talk on “The Immediacy of Poetry” at a public lecture set for Wednesday, April 17 at 1 p.m. in the Chapel of All Faiths.

Her lecture will address poetry’s relevance to everyday life, its unique immediacy to the reader, and how deeply the language of poetry connects to a person’s life. Relying on personal experience and reflecting on the nature of language, Starnes will share some thoughts and poems on the intimate relationship and the dialogue between the poem and the reader and on the way a poem relies on the reader to gain new life.

Coffee Night will also feature "Spring Highland Voices: Writers and Performers of the College and Community," and Author Wendy Welch’s The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap (St. Martin’s Press, 2012). Welch has a Ph.D. in Ethnography and runs Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books and Café with her husband Jack in Big Stone Gap. Her book has been featured in Redbook, Country Woman, People, Huffington Post, Washington Post, The LA Times, and on NPR’s Weekend Edition, among other places.

All contributors to the new edition of the Jimson Weed, which will be released during Coffee Night, are invited to present. A full program will be forthcoming.  Those interested in participating in reading or performing along with the featured writers may contact Lauren Miller, Jimson Weed managing editor, by April 8.  

Starnes is poetry editor of The Anglican Theological Review and critique editor of Creative Writing Critiques. She has authored five books of poetry: The Soul's Landscape (Aldrich Poetry Prize, 2002); A Commerce of Moments  (Pavement Saw Press, Editor’s Prize, 2003; Corpus Homini: A Poem for Single Flesh (Whitebird Poetry Series Prize, Wings Press, 2008); Fully Into Ashes (Wings Press, 2011 and Love and the Afterlife (Franciscan University, 2012).  Her most recent work is Four Virginia Poets Laureate 2004-2012, which she edited. She is the recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Rainer Maria Rilke Poetry Prize, the Marlboro Review Editor’s Prize, a Conference on Christianity and Literature Poetry Prize, the Superior Achievement Award in Poetry by the Virginia Writer's Club, and a Pushcart nomination (Green Hills Literary Lantern), among other recognitions.

In 2008, her work was selected for the Best of the Decade Issue by Hawai’i Pacific Review, and in 2009, she was named Distinguished Scholar by Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky. Starnes’s work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including the Notre Dame Review, Bellevue Literary Review, The Southern Poetry Review, Laurel Review, Blackbird, and Hayden’s Ferry. She is the poetry editor of The Anglican Theological Review and is listed in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who of American Women.

Starnes earned a Licenciatura (Master’s) in English Philology from the University of Madrid.  She offers writing tutorials and comprehensive editing services to writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, through Creative Writing Critiques.  She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband, an internationally acclaimed chemist and the Gottwald Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at the College of William and Mary, Dr. Bill Starnes.

Coffee Night events are free and open to the public. Students will receive cultural credit for attendance.  For more information, contact College Relations at 276-376-1027.