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Renowned poet Robert Bly to appear at UIS' Brookens Library

September 8, 2006

Robert Bly

SPRINGFIELD – Renowned poet/storyteller Robert Bly will be featured in two presentations at Brookens Library at the University of Illinois at Springfield in October. Both events are free and open to the public.

"Poems and Ideas: An Evening with Robert Bly"is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 3, in Brookens Auditorium, located on the first level of the library on the UIS campus. Bly will read selections from his poetry, followed by a book-signing and reception.

The following day, Wednesday, October 4, he will speak on "What Responsibility Do We Have for the Iraq War" at 11 a.m., also in Brookens Auditorium.

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Brookens Library
Robert Bly

Noted for his roles as editor, translator, and founder of what he has termed "the expressive men's movement," Bly has had a profound influence on the shape of modern American poetry.

As the editor of the magazine The Sixties (begun as The Fifties), Bly introduced many little known European and South American poets to an American audience.  Of his translations, one critic wrote, "Robert Bly has changed global literature forever by translating and bringing world literature to U.S. readers for 50 years."  Authors whom he has translated range from Pablo Neruda and Tomas Transtrommer to the medieval Hindu mystic poet Kabir. 

In 1966 Bly co-founded American Writers against the Vietnam War and was a central figure in many opposition efforts. When he won the National Book Award in 1969 for The Light around the Body, he donated the prize money to the anti-war movement.  He has been similarly outspoken against the war in Iraq, yet it would be a mistake to label Bly a political poet -- one critic has suggested that in fact Bly's poems could be called "religious meditations."

Writing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, critic Pamela Miller called Bly's poems "windows blown open by winter wind." "His greatest gift," she continued, "is his ability to compress layered stories and emotions into a few deceptively simple words."

Bly's nonfiction works include the international bestseller Iron John: A Book about Men (1990) and his more than 30 volumes of poetry include Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems (Harper Perennial, 2000). Most recently he has published The Winged Energy of Delight: Selected Translations (Harper Perennial, 2005) and My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy (Harper Collins, 2005), which includes the already famous anti-war poem "Call and Answer."

Bly's appearances at UIS are sponsored by Friends of Brookens Library as part of the year-long celebration of the library's 30th anniversary.  Co-sponsors for the events include the Illinois Arts Council, the UIS Speakers' Award Committee, the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration.

For more information, contact Jane Treadwell, university librarian and dean of library instructional services, at 217/206-6597 or go to http://library.uis.edu/aboutus/whatsnew/index.html.     


Editors, please note: Mr. Bly has agreed to be available for interviews. To make arrangements, contact him by phone at 612/377-9817 or send a fax to 612/377-5556. Additional background information about Mr. Bly can be found at his website at http://www.robertbly.com/.

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.