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National Poetry Month event at the Orpheum

Ray Youngbear

Ray Young Bear

Marshalltown Community College will celebrate National Poetry Month with a live reading at 7 pm on Monday, April 18, at the IVCCD Orpheum Theater Center. The night’s featured guest is nationally recognized and celebrated poet, Ray Young Bear. This poetry reading is free and the public is encouraged to attend and experience this rare opportunity to hear a premiere poet read his work.

“Young Bear’s poetry is often funny, and it’s at once accessible and mystical,” says Carolyn Briggs, MCC Associate Professor of English. “We’re ushered into a warm and safe place and then our hearts break, but the good kind of breaking, the one that means something new is coming to the surface. A speaker in one of his poems asks, ‘Do you know what used to be here?’ Ray Young Bear does know, and his poet’s eye refuses to turn away.”

The poet will read from his newest work while mixing in some songs throughout the night.

Ray Young Bear was born in Marshalltown but was raised on the Meskwaki settlement where he attended tribal elementary school until 1964. He graduated from South Tama High School in 1969.

A recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ray Young Bear has taught creative writing and Native American literature at numerous schools across the United States, including the University of Iowa. A singer as well as an author, Young Bear is a cofounder of the Woodland Singers & Dancers, which performs contemporary and traditional tribal dances throughout the country.

His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Virginia Quarterly ReviewNew Letters, Prairie SchoonerIowa ReviewAmerican Poetry Review, and Best American Poetry. He has three collections of poetry: Winter of the Salamander (1980), The Invisible Musician(1990), and The Rock Island Hiking Club (2001). Black Eagle Child: The Facepaint Narratives (1995), a novel combining prose and poetry called “magnificent” by the New York Times. Its sequel, Remnants of the First Earth (1998), won the Ruth Suckow Award as an outstanding work of fiction about Iowa.

The IVCCD Orpheum Theater Center Movie House is located at 220 E. Main St., Marshalltown. For questions, contact Carolyn Briggs at 641-844-5721 or Carolyn.Briggs@iavalley.edu.

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.

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