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Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart


NYS Writers Institute, April 24, 2008
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Campus Center 375
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Frank Bidart, Pulitzer-nominated poet known for work that explores the revelations of troubled minds, will read from his new collection, “Watching the Spring Festival” (2008) on Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. in Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in Campus Center 375 on the uptown campus. The events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

"Not one quarterly took a poem. Most of them are long . . .in distinctly unfashionable mode. . . " (3:30)

Frank Bidart, more than any contemporary American poet, is associated with the revelations of troubled minds, and with risk-taking adventures into the realm of vision and spirit. In 2007, Bidart received Yale University’s Bollingen Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry. In making the award, the judges said, “Bidart’s poems—eerie, probing, sometimes shocking, always subtle—venture into psychic terrain left largely unmapped in contemporary poetry.”

Bidart’s newest collection, “Watching the Spring Festival: Poems” (2008), explores “the difficulties of finding transformation.” Known as a master of the long, or book-length poem, Bidart here writes in the short lyric form for the first time. The poems are preoccupied with the imminence of death, and feature such subjects as Marilyn Monroe, the Russian ballerina Ulanova, the ballet “Giselle,” and the 8th century Chinese Imperial Court as described by the poet Du Fu. Writing in “Booklist,” Ray Olson said, “Bidart’s first collection not dominated by one or more long narratives shows him concerned with the resonance of the old saw, ‘ars longa, vita brevis’.... Bidart is nonpareil.” In a starred review, “Publishers Weekly” called “Watching the Spring Festival,” “His most intimate and vulnerable book.” 

Bidart’s other recent collections include “Star Dust” (2005), “Music Like Dirt” (2002), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and “Desire” (1997), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award.  “The New York Times Book Review” said of “Stardust,” “Bidart is dazzled, confounded and compelled by words, and he wants us to feel the same way . . . [He] has a fastidious sense of poetic craft, but he has faith in primal energies too . . . What Bidart proposes, to balance the moral and aesthetic risks that he takes in Star Dust, is the largest possible conception of poetry’s powers.”

In a review of “Desire” that appeared in “People” magazine, David Lehman said, “Cementing his reputation as a poet of astonishing originality, Bidart revisits classical encounters—the aftermath of a battle described by Tacitus, an incestuous romance in Ovid—and fashions them into a poetic idiom uniquely his own.”

Frank Bidart came to national attention in the 1970s with his collections, “Golden State” (1973) and “The Book of the Body” (1977). On the basis of those collections, “Newsweek” proclaimed Bidart, “a poet of uncommon intelligence and uncompromising originality.”

Bidart’s prizes include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Shelley Award, and the Paris Review’s first Bernard F. Conners Prize. In 2003, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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