POWELL, Wyo. - Poet Linda Bierds will be in Powell Thursday, Sept. 22, to give the annual Winifred S. Wasden Memorial Reading. Her presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Rendezvous Lounge of the DeWitt Student Center at Northwest College.
The author of eight collections of poetry, Bierds is known for her forceful and scholarly poems illuminating moments of intellectual and imaginative discovery in science, history and art.
She’s recognized for teasing out of history those fragile fragments that glue the events of the past to the heart of the present, as she did with Civil War photographer Matthew Brady in her 1997 collection, “The Profile Makers.” Brady’s glass plate negatives from the war became inspiration for a poem when Bierds learned they were declared as surplus and sold to gardeners for use as greenhouse windows.
A review in the New Yorker of Bierds’ 1994 collection, “The Ghost Trio,” claimed, “Whether illuminating odd corners in the life of Beethoven, Darwin, Toulouse-Lautrec, or some anonymous child, she manages to turn anecdote into epiphany—to translate idiosyncratic information into emotionally persuasive acts of historical recovery.”
Bierds’ commitment to “historical recovery” is reflected in her comment, “I find no greater joy in the process of writing a poem than in those hours of research needed to create its world.”
She has received several Pushcart Prizes, as well as grants and awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Poetry Society of America and others.
In awarding her a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “genius” grant in 1998, the MacArthur Foundation praised her as “a poet whose attention to historical detail and to narratives of lyric description sets her apart from the prevailing contemporary styles.”
Bierds has taught English and writing at the University of Washington since 1989, and was the director of its Creative Writing Program from 1997 until 2000.
She is the fourth Wasden Memorial Reader. The Writers Series at Northwest College begins each fall with the Winifred S. Wasden Memorial Reading, celebrating the life of the longtime English professor for whom it’s named.
A reception will follow Bierds’ reading. A selection of her books will be available for purchase and signing.