California Writer Series reading scheduled at CSUB

May 2, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

Frank Bidart, a distinguished poet and Bakersfield native, will give a poetry reading as part of the California Writers Series at California State University, Bakersfield on Tuesday, May 20 at 7 p.m., in the Dezember Room of the Walter Stiern Library.

Bidart, a professor of English and creative writing at Wellesley College, has published eight books of poetry, most of them with Farrar Straus Giroux. His first was "Golden State" (1973), followed by "The Book of the Body" (1977), "The Sacrifice" (1983), "In the Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-1990" (1990), "Desire" (1997), "Music Like Dirt" (2002), and "Star Dust" (2005).

"Desire," a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critic's Circle Award, was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His eighth book, "Watching the Spring Festival: Poems," was just published on April 1.

In 2007, Bidart was awarded the highly prestigious Bollingen Prize from Yale University Library, which includes a cash award of $100,000. Previous recipients include E.E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Adrienne Rich, Robert Penn Warren and John Ashbery.

He was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2003, and also co-edited Robert Lowell's "Collected Poems" (2003).

Born in 1939, Bidart grew up in Bakersfield, the son of a farmer. As a high school student, he hoped for a career as a film director, but he fell in love with literature as an undergraduate at UC Riverside. He went on to earn his doctorate in English at Harvard University, where he became close friends of Lowell and the poet Elizabeth Bishop.

The poetry reading is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a discussion with the author and a book sale and signing, sponsored by Russo's Books.

The California Writers Series, begun in 2006, is sponsored by the CSUB English department and Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society. Previous readers have included Kay Ryan, Wanda Coleman, Joe Wenderoth, Susana Chavez-Silverman, Pam Houston, Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Brian Turner.

For details, contact Marit MacArthur at (661) 654-6503.