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Reading to commemorate poet Roberta Spear
Poets Peter Everwine, C.G. Hanzlicek, Sandra Hoben, Jean Janzen, Philip Levine, Dixie Salazar, David St. John, and Jon Veinberg will read from the newly published collection A Sweetness Rising: New and Selected Poems by Roberta Spear on Saturday, June 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Bonner auditorium at the Fresno Art Museum.
Spear was the author of three collections of poetry: Silks (1980), which was selected for the National Poetry Series; Taking to Water (1985), winner of PEN Los Angles Center Poetry Award; and The Pilgrim Among Us (1991).
A Sweetness Rising brings together poems selected from those three volumes, plus sixty pages of new poems.
Spear was the winner of the James D. Phelan Award, and she was also the recipient of writing grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation.
Spear was a longtime resident of Fresno and a vital part of the Fresno poetry community. She died of leukemia in 2003, and the reading will be a celebration of her life and work. There will be a reception after the reading, and her latest book will be available in the museum gift shop.
At the end of his introduction to A Sweetness Rising, Levine says of Spear's passing: "... the community of poets and poetry readers here in the Valley lost one of its guiding stars. We knew then we lost more than a poet: We lost a radiant friend for life who had enriched our years, a woman of independence and spirit whose vision will continue to sing, moving and touching readers for as long as people care about American poetry."