The Trias Series recently kicked off its spring semester line-up with a reading from poet Elizabeth Willis. Students, faculty and community guests crowded the Hirschson Ballroom for the critically-acclaimed writer’s presentation.
Willis shared poetry from latest publication, “Address” (2011), as well as from her other collection, “Meteoric Flowers” (2006), which has been praised by critics such as poet-scholar Susan Howe and the Jacket magazine. Her reading also included various recent and unpublished poems that offered insight into Willis’s creative process.
Piotr Sommer, this year’s Trias Writer-In Residence, introduced Willis, saying, “What I admire about her is her total unobtrusiveness, her being only what a poem needs and allows. She knows how to fulfill language’s unclear expectations.”
The event concluded with a question-and-answer session, in which engaged audience members to further their understanding of Willis’ poetic approach. Several students interested in poetry and linguistics were able to discuss methods of composition with Willis and gain insight into her creative decisions. Earlier in the day, Willis also attended the Colleges’ Advanced Poetry Workshop to lead a discussion with students on her collection “Address.”
“It was exciting to hear her talk about her use of things like punctuation, because it is inspiring what I do with my own work,” says Meredith Groman ‘15, a student in the workshop.
Willis is the author of five books of poetry, including “Address,” “Meteoric Flowers,” “Turneresque” (2003), “The Human Abstract” (1995) and “Second Law” (1993). She has received numerous prestigious awards and honors for her writing, such as the 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship award, a Walter N. Thayer Fellowship for the Arts, a grant from the California Arts Council, a fellowship from the Howard Foundation and a residency at the MacDowell Colony.
Willis’s visit to HWS is thanks to the Trias Residency for Writers, which is supported by The Peter Trias Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing. This fund was established through a generous bequest from Peter J. Trias ’70. Trias graduated from Hobart with a bachelor’s degree in English and went on to earn his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1972. In 1976, he published a collection of poems, “The House in Venice.”
This year’s Trias Writer-in-Residence poet Piotr Sommer is participating in a one-year residency on campus, working with the Colleges’ best student writers and offering public readings and lectures.
More information regarding The Trias Residency for Writers may be found at: www.hws.edu/trias. Upcoming Dates for the Trias Speaker’s Series are as follows:
Wednesday, March 26: Will Alexander will present “Vertigo Borders: A Reading and a Talk” at 7:30 p.m in the Blackwell Room.
Wednesday, April 2: Joshua Beckman will deliver a poetry reading at 7:30 p.m in the Hirschson Ballroom.