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Iranian-American Poet to Speak of Conflict, Language

Sharif
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Iranian-American Poet to Speak of Conflict, Language

Sharif

Sharif

Sharif

Sharif

Claire Jeantheau ’21, Staff Writer

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Award-winning Iranian-American poet Solmaz Sharif will be visiting Dickinson this week to read from her most recent book, Look.

An announcement from the Clarke Forum, which is sponsoring Sharif’s reading, states that she “will share work that explores, in eloquent detail, the conduct of contemporary war, the intimacy of loss, and the unbearable—but necessary—power of language.” “It should be a wonderful evening,” Professor Amy Farrell, director of the Clarke Forum, said.  “[Sharif] will be reading from her collection Look and then will be taking questions from the audience.”

The poetry collection Look was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 PEN Open Book Award. Sharif’s website describes the work as one that “asks us to see the ongoing costs of war as the unbearable loss of human lives and also the insidious abuses against our everyday speech.”

Look was met with critical acclaim and was named one of the best books of 2016 by The San Francisco Chronicle, Publisher’s Weekly, and The New Yorker, among others. A review from the New York Times Book Review described it as “[An] excellent debut collection. . . . In Sharif’s rendering, ‘Look’ is at once a command to see and to grieve the people these words describe—and also a means of implicating the reader in the violence delivered upon these people.”

Sharif, whose work spans themes of conflict and language, has also been recognized with a number of fellowships, including a scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a renowned gathering for writers at Middlebury College. Her works have been published in Poetry Magazine and The New Republic, and she blogs for the website of the Kenyon Review, a literary journal.

Sharif was born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, and received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkley. She studied and taught with poet June Jordan’s program “Poetry for the People,” which encourages young people to write, as well as including a variety of perspectives in writing. She received her graduate degree at New York University and is currently a Jones Lecturer in the creative writing program at Stanford University.

Leah Miller ’18 has read Sharif’s poetry in several of her classes and “was so moved by her depictions of war and violence.”  She says that “Her poetry pushed me to think more carefully about the language we use in association to violence and conflict and how language can be rooted in power.”

Miller commented that she will “absolutely” be attending Sharif’s reading of her poetry and feels the campus is “so lucky that [Sharif] agreed to come to Dickinson!”

The event will be held on Thursday, Nov. 30 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter auditorium (ATS), and will be followed by a book sale and signing.  This will be the Clarke Forum’s final event of the semester.

The event is co-sponsored by the department of English, the creative writing program, the department of American studies and the women’s & gender resource center.

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Iranian-American Poet to Speak of Conflict, Language