Poet, Essayist Jarman Named Sams Distinguished Writer in Residence


MACON – Award-winning poet Mark Jarman has been named the 2009 Ferrol A. Sams Jr. Distinguished Writer in Residence at Mercer University. In addition to teaching an upper-level writing course, Jarman will give a poetry reading, a lecture and sponsor a reading while in residence at Mercer.

“Jarman is in the first rank of American poets, critics, and editors,” said Gordon Johnston, associate professor of English at Mercer and organizer of Jarman’s visit. “He reinvents himself as a poet in each of his collections, but for all of the variety of music and subject in his poems – he writes about surfing, children, DNA, paintings, his eccentric minister grandfather – there is always an underlying reverence. John Singer Sargent’s tombstone says ‘To work is to pray.’ I think that for Mark to work is to pray.”

Jarman will give his first public reading, titled “Epistles: An Evening of Poetry by Mark Jarman,” on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. in the lecture hall of Willet Science Center on Mercer’s Macon campus. On Feb. 16, he will give a talk about poetry at 7 p.m. in Willett, titled “Metaphor’s Matter and Spirit.” He will sponsor a reading on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in Willett by fellow poet Kate Daniels.

The programs are free of charge and open to the general public. For more information on the events, call (478) 301-2588.

Jarman is the author of nine collections of poetry, including most recently, Epistles (Sarabande, 2007), a meditation on the goodness of God. His other collections include: To the Green Man (Sarabande, 2004); Unholy Sonnets (2000); Questions for Ecclesiastes, which won the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Black Riviera (1990), which won the 1991 Poets’ Prize; Far and Away (1985); The Rote Walker (1981) and North Sea (1978). In 1992, he published Iris, a book-length poem. Two collections of his essays have been published as books, The Secret of Poetry (2001) and Body and Soul (2002).

Jarman’s poetry and essays have been published widely in such periodicals and journals as American Poetry Review, The Hudson Review, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Southern Review and The Yale Review. During the 1980s, he and Robert McDowell founded, edited and published the controversial magazine, The Reaper, selections from which have been published in book form as The Reaper Essays (1996). He is also co-editor with David Mason of Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism (1996).

A native of Kentucky, Jarman is the Centennial Professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Vanderbilt University.

About the Ferrol A. Sams Jr. Distinguished Writer in Residence:

Established in 1993, the Ferrol A. Sams, Jr. Distinguished Writer in Residence brings a nationally prominent fiction writer, poet or dramatist to Mercer each spring to teach creative writing and highlight the literary arts.  Made possible by a major grant from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, this endowed chair honors Dr. Ferrol A. Sams Jr., a physician, author and distinguished alumnus of the College of Liberal Arts, whose many works include “Run with the Horsemen,” “The Whisper of the River,” and “Down Town.”

About Mercer University:

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has approximately 7,700 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; three regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.

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