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Sapphire
Sapphire

MAJOR AMERICAN POET, AUTHOR OF “PUSH,”
THE BASIS FOR THE OSCAR-WINNING FILM “PRECIOUS,” TO READ

NYS Writers Institute, October 26, 2010
8:00 p.m. Reading | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus


CALENDAR LISTING:

Sapphire, major American poet, author of the novel “Push,” which was adapted as the Academy Award-winning film “Precious,” will speak at 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 26, 2010, in Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., on the UAlbany downtown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the UAlbany uptown campus. Sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the School of Public Health in honor of its 25th Anniversary, the events are free and open to the public.

 

PROFILE
Sapphire
, poet, performer, and author of the bestselling novel “Push” (1996), addresses a wide range of social issues in her work, including violence, sexual abuse, prostitution, and discrimination in its myriad forms. She is best known, in the words of a “Library Journal” reviewer, for “nearly hallucinatory riffs on growing up poor, tough, and black in America.”

A publishing phenomenon, her novel “Push” is back on the sales charts this year after serving as the basis for the Academy Award-winning film PRECIOUS (2009), starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, and PushLenny Kravitz. The story of an obese, illiterate African American woman who becomes pregnant by her father with hersecond child, the novel has had a profound impact on millions of readers, and has already earned a place in the multicultural literary canon.

The “Washington Post” reviewer said of the novel, “To read the story [is] magic. . . . profane and thoroughly real.” The “Philadelphia Inquirer” said, “With a fresh new voice that echoes the streets, Sapphire’s work is sure to win as many hearts as it disturbs minds.” “Newsday” said, “The beauty (and the risk) of this book is in its vivid, imperfect harnessing of issues and acts of huge social and moral consequences,” and called the book, “A horrific, hope-filled story [that is] brilliant, blunt, merciless.”

As a poet, Sapphire first achieved widespread acclaim with the publication of “American Dreams” (1994). “Publishers Weekly” said, “In one of the strongest debut collections of the 90s, this black lesbian feminist presents a fusion of poetry Preciousand prose, interspersed with short stories. Not for the squeamish, Sapphire’s imagery is so fierce that readers will want to spread out the book over several sittings…. Perfectly paced, sidestepping explication, Sapphire’s words provide pointers to her characters’ dramas, but she’s still capable of stunning readers with a final image.”

The poetry volume “Black Wings and Blind Angels” followed in 1999. The reviewer for “The Advocate” said, “Sapphire hammers home pain until it is the shape of hope. . . . It is a must for poetry fans.”

Born Ramona Lofton in California, Sapphire is a graduate of City College and Brooklyn College. She spent ten years during the 1980s and 1990s teaching writing to teenagers and adults in Harlem. In 2009 she was the recipient of a Fellow Award in Literature from the philanthropic foundation, United States Artists.

The event is cosponsored by the School of Public Health in celebration of its 25th Anniversary.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.