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Feb. 12 Open Poetry Reading At U.Va. Will Focus On War

February 11, 2003-- An open poetry reading Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the University of Virginia will take as its theme the threat of war with Iraq and is planned in response to the White House’s postponement of a poetry celebration that day. Open to the public, the reading will be held at 8 p.m. in Minor Hall auditorium.

The program, “Poetry Forum: American Voices, or, the War,” will welcome the reading of poems against the war, for the war, or about war or “the American voice” in general, said Jim Cocola, an English literature graduate student organizing the event.

The reading is one of several planned across the country this week in response to the possibility of war and to a controversy over the White House’s postponement of a Feb. 12 symposium called “Poetry and the American Voice.” With some symposium participants planning to speak against the war, “It would be inappropriate to turn a literary event into a political forum,” a White House statement said announcing the postponement. The event was planned as a celebration of the diversity of American poetry.

“Whether you are for the wider war, against the wider war, unsure about the wider war or reluctant to speak at all regarding the wider war, if you care about poetry you are likely to care about these developments,” Cocola said.

U.Va. poets Gregory Orr and Debra Nystrom are among several poets who plan to read at the event, he said.

Former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove, a U.Va. English professor, issued a statement last week saying she had intended to decline the national symposium invitation because the Bush administration “is not interested in poetry” as much as advancing its policies.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (434) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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