Jordan, Kafka winner to give readings


Barbara Jordan, associate professor in the Department of English, and Kathleen Cambor, winner of the University's 1998 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, will present readings of their work on consecutive evenings this month.

Jordan will read from her newly published collection of poems, Trace Elements, as part of the University's Plutzik Memorial Poetry Series. Her reading, which is free and open to the public, will be given at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19 in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library.

Jordan has taught courses in creative writing and contemporary poetry at the University since 1990. Her poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Sulfur, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. Her first collection, Channel, won the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. Jordan has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation.

One of the country's oldest and most prestigious literary reading programs, the Plutzik Series was established in 1962 to honor the work of Hyam Plutzik, a distinguished poet and Dean Professor of Poetry and Rhetoric at the University. Guests have included Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Wilbur; Native American writer Diane Glancy; Irish novelist Hugo Hamilton; freelance journalist Christopher Merrill; and Latino poet Martin Espada.

The 1997-98 Plutzik Series will conclude in April with readings by the winners of a student poetry contest and an appearance by Jorie Graham, the best-known poet on America's literary scene today. Graham, the author of seven books of poetry, received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems. She was profiled in the New Yorker last July.


First-time novelist Kathleen Cambor will receive the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and read from her novel, The Book of Mercy, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20, at Writers and Books on University Avenue. The prize is sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies and the Department of English, with Writers & Books.

The Kafka Prize is awarded yearly to a woman who has written the best, recently published book-length work of prose fiction, whether novel, short stories, or experimental writing. It has been awarded since 1976 in memory of Janet Kafka, a promising young editor who was killed in an automobile accident.

The Book of Mercy has been critically acclaimed for Cambor's use of fire symbolism, which shapes the story of a German Catholic family in Pittsburgh and its disintegration after the abandonment of the mother. The characters focus on different disciplines to explain their loss, from alchemy to religion to psychiatry.

Cambor, whose work has appeared in The Gray Wolf Annual, American Short Fiction, and Southwest Review, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. degree in nursing. She worked as a psychiatric nurse in Pittsburgh until she moved to Houston, where she earned a master's degree in English and creative writing from the University of Houston and began her literary career.

Admission is free for students with University ID; $4 for University faculty and staff, and members of Writers & Books; and $5 for the public. Call the institute, x5-8318, for more information.

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