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Poet Toi Derricotte to Give Free Reading at Duquesne

Award-winning poet Toi Derricotte will give a free public reading on Thursday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in Duquesne University's Power Center Ballroom.

As part of the curriculum of the freshman writing classes, students have been studying Derricotte's poetry this semester and will attend the reading, which is intended to help students experience literature off the printed page.

 "We wanted all first-year students to have the opportunity not just to read, but to hear, literature," said Greg Barnhisel, associate professor of English and director of the First-Year Writing Program. "It's been a great success because we've had fantastic people come and read, and because our instructors and students have really bought in to the concept."

For the past three years, the annual event has brought in well-known writers with Pittsburgh ties, including poet Terrance Hayes and author Stewart O'Nan.

"Pittsburgh is so full of wonderful, high-profile writers that we wanted to showcase them," Barnhisel explained. "Having Pittsburgh-based writers come to Duquesne, as well, gives our students another way to connect with them."

Derricotte has published five books of poetry, most recently The Undertaker's Daughter, which looks back on her childhood in an abusive home. Her long list of honors includes two Pushcart Prizes, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. Derricotte is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and a co-founder of Cave Canem, a workshop and retreat for African-American poets.

"Derricotte's poetry is highly personal and very approachable for students without a great deal of experience with literature," Barnhisel said. "This last collection deals with some tough issues, but we think that our students can handle it."

The reading is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Department of English and the First-Year Writing Program.

For more information, email english@duq.edu.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.