Internationally Acclaimed Poet to Visit Columbus

2014 PEN/Heim Award Will Read From Her Work at Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians


 COLUMBUS, Ga. --- Columbus State University’s Department of English will host internationally acclaimed poet, writer, editor, and literary translator Sholeh Wolpé to read from her work and answer questions on Friday, Feb. 6 at the McCullers Center at 4 p.m., followed by a reading at 7:30. Both events are free.

“Sholeh Wolpé’s visit is tremendous honor and opportunity for CSU and the Columbus literary community,” said Nick Norwood, CSU English professor. “In addition to winning many awards for her writing, she has translated into Arabic important literary works, including Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.”

Born in Iran, Wolpé spent most of her teen years in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the United States. Now based in Los Angeles, she was recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim award, 2014 Hedgebrook Residency, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, is the author of three collections of poetry and two books of translations, and is the editor of three anthologies.

The Poetry Foundation has written that “Wolpé’s concise, unflinching, and often wry free verse explores violence, culture, and gender. So many of Wolpé’s poems deal with the violent situation in the Middle East, yet she is ready to both bravely and playfully refuse to let death be too proud.”

Wolpé’s first collection, The Scar Saloon, was lauded by Billy Collins as “poems that cast a light on some of what we all hold in common.” Poet and novelist Chris Abani wrote:  “Sholeh Wolpé’s poems are political, satirical, and unflinching in the face of war, tyranny and loss. Talismanic and alchemical, they attempt to transmute experience into the magic of the imagined. But they also dare to be tender and funny lyrical moments.”

The poems in Wolpé’s second collection, Rooftops of Tehran, were called by poet Nathalie Handal “as vibrant as they are brave,” and Richard Katrovas wrote that its publication was a “truly rare event: an important book of poetry.”

Sholeh Wolpé and Mohsen Emadi’s translations of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself (آواز خويشتنwere commissioned by the University of Iowa’s International Program. They are currently on University of Iowa’s Whitman website and will soon be available in print in Iran.

Wolpé’s anthologies have received critical acclaim, as well. Robert Olen Butler lauded Breaking the Jaws of Silence as “a deeply humane and aesthetically exhilarating collection.” The Forbidden: Poems from Iran and Its Exiles, a recipient of the 2013 Midwest Book Award, includes many of Wolpé’s own translations, and was called by Sam Hamil a “most welcome gift” that “embraces and illuminates our deepest human bonds and hopes.” Joy Harjo wrote, “What demon can withstand against these beautiful and truthful singers? What heart will not open when they hear these poems?”

Wolpé’s writings have been translated into several languages and her work is included in numerous American and international anthologies of poetry and fiction. She has taught poetry and literary translation at Stonecoast’s MFA program and has been featured and participated in many festivals, international programs, and university events.

Wolpé was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s 2006 Fiction Open and in addition to the 2014 PEN/Heim award, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, she has also been the recipient of the 2005 Peace through the Arts award as well as the  2004 Commendable Excellence award in poetry from Artists Embassy International, and The National League of American Pen Women’s Soul-making Literary Award in 2003.

For further information about the awards, please contact: Dr. Nick Norwood, CSU professor of English at 706-569-2507 or norwood_robert@columbusstate.edu

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