$4 million gift supports poetry at Bennington

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BENNINGTON — Bennington College has been given a $4 million gift for its Poetry at Bennington program, funding that further advances the college's current capital campaign.

Poetry at Bennington, a program of short-term residencies for established and emerging poets, received the gift from longstanding donors to the college, according to a news release. The donors' identities were not revealed.

The Poetry at Bennington program has never previously had an endowment, said Alex Dery Snider, director of media relations and public affairs at the college.

The moneys supports honoraria and travel for poets, along with multi-day residencies, craft talks and individual student conferences with the visiting poets, in addition to readings, Snider wrote in an email.

"We want our students to imagine what is possible, including how they can have an active writing practice," Poetry at Bennington director Michael Dumanis said in the release. "Beyond giving us the opportunity to hear extraordinary poetry, these visits help form a community."

This gift also advances the endowment goal of the recently-announced $150 million Bennington College capital campaign, according to the release.

Last month, the college announced that capital campaign — its largest ever — to support five priorities for the college, including financial aid and campus renewal, and revealed it was already more than halfway to its goal.

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Poetry at Bennington was established in 2012, and has brought more than 50 poets to campus, including poets laureate and Pulitzer Prize winners.

During short-term residencies, the poets give public readings and engage with students in question-and-answer sessions, lectures, master classes, group writing exercises and individual consultations.

April is National Poetry Month. It was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.

Spring 2019 Poetry at Bennington residents will include: Erica Dawson, Dora Malech, Tyehimba Jess, Robert Farnsworth, Craig Morgan Teicher and Katie Ford. Jess is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

All will participate in public readings: Dawson and Malech will read April 17, Jess will read April 244, Farnsworth and Teicher will read May 1 and Ford will read May 8.

All readings begin at 7 p.m. in the Tishman Lecture Hall at Bennington College. They are free and open to the public.

Prior visiting poets include poets laureate Charles Simic, Mark Strand and Natasha Trethewey; MacArthur "genius grant" winners C.D. Wright and Claudia Rankine and National Book Award Winners Daniel Borzutzky, Robin Coste Lewis, Mark Doty and Terrance Hayes, according to the press release.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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