Award-winning poet Nathaniel Mackey to read from his work at Coe

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2014-10-23 09:46:21 - General

Nathaniel Mackey

Award-winning poet Nathaniel Mackey will share his poetry at the annual Paul Engle Writers Series Poetry Reading on Thursday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in Kesler Lecture Hall of Hickok Hall on the Coe College campus. The event is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow.

Mackey, whose writing is deeply informed by his intense devotion to music and jazz in particular, has been described in The New York Times as "virtually alone among important American writers of fiction and poetry," which, "is a testament to [his] stoutness of heart and mind…as an artist wholly devoted to jazz literature." He will read poems and participate in a question and answer discussion exploring his poetry, his relationship to jazz, being a critic and editor, and much more with Coe Assistant Professor of English Nick Twemlow.

In 2014, Mackey was awarded the highly prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation. The poet's other awards and honors include the selection of "Eroding Witness" for publication in the National Poetry Series, a Whiting Writer's Award in 1993, election to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2001, the National Book Award in poetry for "Splay Anthem" in 2006, an Artist's Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2007, and the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize in 2007. In 2008, Mackey received the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society, and he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010.

Mackey was born in Miami in 1947, and grew up in California. He earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1969 and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1975. Currently, Mackey lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches at Duke University, where he is the Reynolds Price Professor of English. He has previously taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Mackey is the author of five books of poetry, "Eroding Witness" (University of Illinois Press, 1985), "School of Udhra" (City Lights Books, 1993), "Whatsaid Serif" (City Lights Books, 1998), "Splay Anthem" (New Directions, 2006), and "Nod House" (New Directions, 2011).

In addition, Mackey has an ongoing prose work, "From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate," of which four volumes have been published: "Bedouin Hornbook" (Callaloo Fiction Series, 1986; second edition: Sun & Moon Press, 1997), "Djbot Baghostus's Run" (Sun & Moon Press, 1993), "Atet A.D." (City Lights Books, 2001), and "Bass Cathedral" (New Directions, 2008). The first three of these have been published together as "From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate: Volumes 1-3" (New Directions, 2010).

Mackey is also the author of two books of criticism, "Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing" (Cambridge University Press, 1993; paper edition: University of Alabama Press, 2000) and "Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews" (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). "Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25," a compact disc recording of poems read with musical accompaniment (Royal Hartigan, percussion; Hafez Modirzadeh, reeds and flutes), was released in 1995 by Spoken Engine Company. He is editor of the literary magazine Hambone and co-editor, with Art Lange, of the anthology "Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose" (Coffee House Press, 1993).

The annual Paul Engle Poetry Reading honors the late Paul Engle, Cedar Rapids native, Coe College graduate and longtime director of the famed Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. In the spirit of Paul Engle's mentoring of young writers, Coe brings a distinguished poet to campus each year for a reading and an informal meeting with students.

For more information, visit or call 399-8581.