Gould and Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco Announce Visiting Writers Program

February 20, 2014


Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco announced the Richard Blanco Visiting Writers Program and Retreat today at Gould Academy.

Gould Academy and Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco announced today the Richard Blanco Visiting Writers Program and Retreat, a collaboration between the poet and the small boarding school that aims to celebrate living writers and build appreciation for contemporary work.

“This is something I’ve been dreaming of doing with Gould and in Bethel for awhile and now it’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Blanco. “Part of what I learned over the process of being the inaugural poet, was that we as a country need to continue to create new generations of readers and appreciators of poetry. Through contact with contemporary work and contemporary authors, my hope is that students can develop that appreciation and understand that poetry, just like any art, is still vibrant and alive today – one that can teach us about ourselves and about the world.”

The Richard Blanco Writers Program and Retreat provides a contemporary writer with a  stipend and a two-week stay in Blanco’s private cottage, where the writer can rest and work on his or her craft.

Visiting writers will engage with Gould Academy students and faculty through classroom visits and workshops, giving them the opportunity to connect with and learn from a living artist. Through public readings and events, the program will expose the larger community and region to great contemporary writers.

“We are thrilled to partner with Richard to help bring working writers to our school and community,” said Gould Academy Head of School Matt Ruby. “This is an exceptional opportunity for our students, faculty and the region. We can’t wait to see it grow.”

Blanco announced the program’s first participating writer, poet Spencer Reece, who will spend two weeks in Bethel in March.

“I have been a fan of Spencer’s work for quite some time,” said Blanco. “He visited me in Bethel last year, and I am thrilled to welcome him back to share his work. I am sure his moving and pure-spirited poems will inspire and enrich our community.”

An Episcopal priest ordained in 2011, Reece’s poems explore faith and family. His debut collection, “The Clerk’s Tale,” was published in 2004 and received the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for poetry, selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Gluck and awarded by the Middlebury College Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. He is also the author of the collection “The Road to Emmaus” published in 2013.

Reece’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, grants from the Fulbright Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Council, a Witter Bynner fellowship from the Library of Congress and a Whiting Writer’s Award.

Following the announcement, Richard Blanco led a conversation on the craft of poetry with students and faculty in the Sanborn Family Library.

Following the announcement, Richard Blanco led a conversation on the craft of poetry with students and faculty in the Sanborn Family Library.

The program and Reece’s upcoming visit are a natural fit for Gould and its English curriculum, said English Department Chair Holly Tornrose.

“We share Richard’s belief in the value of exposing students to the work of living writers. Our curriculum includes authors from around the world both past and present by design,” said Tornrose. “Rather than seeing writing as a celebrated art from the past, this program will help our students to see writing as a living craft, one that they can appreciate and experience today. We are looking forward to having Spencer on campus working with students.”

A public reading and reception featuring Spencer Reece with an introduction by Blanco is slated for Thursday, March 6 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in Bingham Auditorium on the Gould Academy campus. The reading will be followed by an intimate reception with both poets and a book signing with Reece.


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