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Hampshire Alum Poet, a National Book Award Finalist, Returns to Campus for Reading

Robin Coste Lewis is a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry

Hampshire alum and former faculty member Robin Coste Lewis, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry, returned to campus to read from Voyage of the Sable Venus.

Voyage of the Sable Venus

“I’m thrilled—but not surprised—that Robin Coste Lewis’s debut volume has already generated such extraordinary excitement,” says Hampshire College Writing Program Codirector Ellie Siegel, one of the coordinators of the event. “Robin is absolutely brilliant, of course, but she’s also an omnivore—boldly experimental in her poetic form, deeply, complicatedly political in content. The dedication of her book reads, ‘For Beauty,’ and beauty abounds, but also collides with violence, debasement, and erasure. We’re grateful that she made herself available to Hampshire at this time.”

Lewis, who was a student at the College in the late 1980s, says she was excited to return to the campus where, as both a student and later as a member of the faculty, she found that “decades before the word interdisciplinarity gained popular use, it was reinforced, again and again, that the answer most often to my question was never ‘A’ or ‘B’ but ‘Both’!

“How lucky Hampshire students are to matriculate at a place that will rigorously support intellectual and aesthetic development,” she says. “Every so-called nontraditional or aesthetic gesture within hybridity that I make, I make not only because of my personal history, but also because being a student at Hampshire taught me how to make floorlessness my intellectual home.”

Lewis is a Provost’s Fellow in Poetry and Visual Studies at the University of Southern California. She is also a Cave Canem fellow and a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. She received her MFA in poetry from NYU and an MTS in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from the Divinity School at Harvard University. A finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award, she has published her work in various journals and anthologies, among them the Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, the Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Phantom Limb, and the Lambda Literary Review.

Watch Robin Coste Lewis read The Body in August:

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