By SAMANTHA SETO
For The News-Letter
The President’s Reading Series, an annual speaker series that hosts four distinguished guest writers, took place in Hodson Hall on Tuesday. Members of the Baltimore and Hopkins communities attended the event.
Eduardo C. Corral read an excerpt from his free-verse poetry collection Slow Lightning, using Spanish words to reflect his heritage. Corral graduated from Arizona State University and later attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Slow Lightning was selected as the 2011 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Corral was also nominated for the Whiting Writers’ Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
“You don’t have to be under 40 years old for the Yale Writing Prize anymore,” Corral said.
In her poetry collection When My Brother Was An Aztec, Natalie Diaz focuses on her Native American background, writing about the empathy of facts, community and government. She spoke about her experiences growing up as a disadvantaged Native American in the United States.
Diaz has received the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Diaz was introduced as a writer who thinks of language like a puzzle.
“My writing is ironic and celebratory within a particular frame of reference,” said Natalie Diaz.
Tarfia Faizullah wrote Seam, which won the Crab Orchard Series in 2012 with the Poetry First Book Award. She is a writer-in-residence for InsideOut Literary Arts Project and joined the University of Michigan as a visiting professor of creating writing. Her poems focused on the theme of “sister’s death.”
Faizullah said that she has recently changed how she names her poems.
“I kind of got tired of being catastrophic,” she said.
Jamaal May’s Hum, published by Alice James Books in 2013, received the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award, Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Silver Medal, an NAACP Image Award nomination and was one of The Boston Globe’s Best Books of 2013. He is a Kenyon Review fellow. The Los Angeles Review of Books recognized him for his work on building the notion of identity. He has received several prestigious awards during his career.
He read from his first book and The Big Book of Exit Strategies, forthcoming in 2016.
There was also a reception offering refreshments for students, faculty and guest writers who attended the event.
The writers’ books were on sale after the event.