November 25, 2022

Pennsylvania Center for the Book Announces Public Poetry Project 2020 Selections


UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – Selected poems by Rachelle Bowser, Rachel Mennies, Erin Murphy and Eleanor Stanford have been chosen to represent the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s 2020 Public Poetry Project, with poetry performed in poster art for the event annual.

This year’s selections were carefully chosen by a panel of three poets selected by the Centre’s Public Poetry Advisory Board. This year’s panel is Sarah Blake, award-winning author and poet currently living in the UK; George Looney, author, editor and distinguished professor of English at Penn State Erie; and Cassie Garrison, a Seattle-based poet pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in English at the University of Washington.

During the selection process, each panelist names two poets and highlights a few proposals from their collective works. From this pool, the panel deliberates until they agree on a poem by each of the four poets, to be interpreted in an annual series of art posters. This year’s poetry selections are:

“The suburbs or the replicas of natural environments”, by Rachelle Bowser

Poet from DuBois, Pa., Bowser often writes about partitioning walls. She received her BFA from Penn State Behrend and her MFA from Georgia College, and currently resides in Buffalo, New York.

“Teenager’s First Draft”, by Rachel Mennies

Mennies is the author of “The Naomi Letters”, to be published in 2021 by BOA Editions, and “The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards”, winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry 2014 at Texas Tech University Press, and finalist for a national Jewish book award. His poetry and non-fiction have been published in American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, The Millions, The Poetry Foundation, The Believer and elsewhere. In 2016, Mennies was named series editor for the Walt McDonald Award for First Book of Poetry; she is also editor-in-chief of AGNI reviews.

“Wish”, by Erin Murphy

Murphy is the author or publisher of 11 books, including his eighth collection of poems, “Human Resources,” forthcoming by Salmon Poetry, and “Assisted Living, ” a collection of half-sonnets, a form she designed. Her most recent edited anthologies are “Creating Nonfiction” (SUNY Press), Gold Medal Winner at Foreword INDIES Book of the Year 2016; and “Bodies of Truth,” a collection of narrative medicine essays (University of Nebraska Press). She is the poetry editor for the Summerset Review and an English teacher at Penn State Altoona.

“Dark Hummingbird, “ by Eleanor Stanford

Stanford is the author of three books of poetry, “The Imaginal Marriage, Bartram’s Garden” and “The Book of Sleep”, all published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. His poems and essays have been published in Poetry, Plowshares, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review and many more. She is a 2019 NEA Poetry Fellow and 2014/2016 Fulbright Fellow in Brazil, where she has researched and written on traditional midwifery practice. She lives in the Philadelphia area.

The Public Poetry Project 2020 poster series was developed into poster art by award-winning designer Christopher Blaska at Penn State University Libraries. The poems of each of the winning Pennsylvania connected poets were performed in fine art posters, available for viewing online, where viewers can also find biographical information about the poets and comments from the judges.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book sends the posters throughout the Commonwealth – to schools, libraries, bookstores, coffee shops and other businesses and also distributes 2,000 posters each year at the National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC Since 2000, over 80 poets appeared on the poster series and over 100,000 poem posters were distributed.

About the public poetry project

Launched in 1999 by the late Kim Fisher, the Paterno family’s first literature librarian, the Public Poetry Project seeks to make poetry more accessible in the daily lives of Pennsylvanians by placing poems in public places. Since 2000, more than 80 poets with a connection to Pennsylvania, by birth or long period of residence, have had their works exhibited as part of this series.

The Public Poetry Project is under the direction of Ellysa Stern Cahoy, Deputy Director, and Caroline Wermuth, Outreach Coordinator, for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. The Public Poetry Project at Penn State is sponsored by Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.

About the Pennsylvania Center for the Book

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book, established in 1977 at the Library of Congress, encourages the citizens and residents of Pennsylvania to study, honor, celebrate, and promote books, reading, libraries, and the literacy. In addition to the Public Poetry Project, it also administers the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award; the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize; Poems of life; Wordstruck; Micro essays on the literature that has redefined you; A dozen bakers: the best children’s books for family literacy; and the Pennsylvania Literary and Cultural Heritage Interactive Map.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s Public Poetry Project, contact Caroline Wermuth at [email protected] or 814-863-5472, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website at pabook.libraries.psu .edu.