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Seven award-winning poets, faculty and alumni of George Mason University’s Master of Fine Arts program in poetry, will celebrate their new books of poems with a reading.

The poets arrive in Minneapolis as the nation’s largest annual writer’s conference, the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs ) Conference & Bookfair, kicks off four days of literary events in the city, from Wednesday, April 8 to Saturday, April 11.

“Each of the poets reading on this night happen to have a new book that has either come out in the past year or is forthcoming next year. We’re excited to celebrate this culmination of our art in Minneapolis, which as a city is known for its appreciation for all things artistic,” says Mason faculty Peter Streckfus, a recent winner of the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The poets, Mason alumni Cynthia Marie Hoffman and J. Michael Martinez, and faculty Jennifer Atkinson, Sally Keith, Eric Pankey, Peter Streckfus, and Susan Tichy, will be available after the reading for conversation with audience members. 

George Mason University offers one of the country’s few BFAs in creative writing as well as a long-standing nationally ranked MFA program, each of which has concentrations in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. It is located in northern Virginia, within the DC metropolitan area. The program’s core faculty consist of internationally-recognized writers, including fiction-writer Helon Habila, who was just awarded a $150,000 Windham Cambell Literature Prize by Yale University in March.

Mason alum Cynthia Marie Hoffman’s Paper Doll Fetus (Persea Books, 2014), part spell-book, part anatomical primer, arises from the history of obstetrics, midwifery, and the many possible experiences of childbirth. 

In the Garden of the Bridehouse (University of Arizona Press, 2014), by alum J. Michael Martinez, interrogates the sundry roles language, myth, and sexuality play for the self and the other. 

Five faculty will also read from new poetry collections. 

Jennifer Atkinson’s The Thinking Eye (Free Verse Editions, 2016), written with an ecopoet’s conscience, looks at the syntax of our living, evolving world, paying close attention to the actual quartz and gnats, the goats and iced-over, onrushing rivers. 

Sally Keith’s River House (Milkweed Press, 2015), written in the wake of the loss of her mother, follows Keith as she makes her way through the depths of grief, navigating a world newly transfigured, incorporating her travels abroad, her experience studying the neutral mask technique developed by Jacques Lecoq, and her return to the river house she and her mother often visited. 

Eric Pankey’s Crow-Work (Milkweed Press, 2015) asks “What is a song but a snare to capture the moment?” This central question drives Pankey’s exploration of the moment where emotion and energy flood a work of art. 

Peter Streckfus’s Errings (Fordham University Press, 2014) addresses the absent—a lost leader, a distant love, a protégé not yet born, a deceased father—speaking on the margin between death and birth, reading and writing, separation and union. 

Susan Tichy’s Trafficke (Ahsahta Press, 2015) steps forward and backward in time, sampling texts that range from 16th-century Gaelic poetry to runaway slave advertisements, as Tichy’s narrative pulls readers through a many-layered critique of ownership and the timeless seduction of beauty.