Monday, March 24, 2014

Poet Shara Lessley gives public Reading March 26

Shara Lessley, author of the poetry compilation Two-Headed Nightingale, will give a public reading at Randolph College on March 26th at 8 p.m. in the Alice Ashley Jack Room as part of the Visiting Writer Series.

Lessley, the Anne Spencer Poet in Residence, will be at Randolph for four weeks. In addition to giving the public reading this Wednesday, she will teach a class with a focus on writing and poetry.

Photo by Lisa Beth Anderson
Lessley is a poet and teacher with a bachelor’s degree in dance and English from the University of California, Irvine and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Maryland. She sees a connection between the two disciplines.

“My training as a dancer influences the way I see syntax and the line. Elongation, contraction. Rhythm. Musicality. I'm very interested in the sentence as a muscle the poet flexes and points, in order to control pacing and speed,” Lessley said.

Lessley has been drawn to poetry since she was nine. “When I was nine, I encountered Dickinson's ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,’ and was completely gobsmacked,” she said. “Of course, I didn’t understand the poem fully, but I was overwhelmed by its weirdness, its mystery and music. It made me want to parade and stomp around in Dickinson's ’Boots of Lead’—a high mark of praise for a third grader, I suppose.”

Lessley draws her current inspiration for her poetry from her experience living in Amman, Jordan the past three years, a region she describes as “complex and rich.”

Among her other accomplishments, Lessley is also a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University and the 2014 Mary Wood Fellow at Washington College.  Her work has been featured in The Rumpus Poetry Anthology and The Ecopoetry Anthology.

Lessley is Randolph College’s first Anne Spencer Poet in Residence. While the College has hosted poets and other writers for years, this position in the Visiting Writer Series was recently renamed to honor Anne Spencer, a Harlem Renaissance poet who lived not far from the College.