Poet to present readings during Bothe lecture

March 15, 2010

Poet, essayist and lyricist Mary Jo Salter will present readings from her work during the 24th annual B. Christopher Bothe Lecture at 7:30 p.m. March 25 in McDaniel Lounge.

Salter is a true "woman of letters," according to Kathy Mangan, professor and chair of the English department. Working in a variety of literary genres, Salter has published as a poet, critic, editor, essayist, children's book author, and lyricist.

“As an internationally regarded poet, Salter practices an inventive use of traditional forms via contemporary topics,” Mangan said. “Her keen eye and astute ear make every poem a visual and aural reading pleasure. She will be a stellar addition to our distinguished list of Bothe poets.”

Author of six books of poetry, Salter will read from her most recent book, “A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems,” including the title poem, which begins:

“Who says science fiction
is only set in the future?
After a while, the story that looks least
believable is the past.
The console television with three channels.
Black-and-white picture. Manual controls:
the dial clicks when you turn it, like the oven.
You have to get up and walk somewhere to change things.
You have to leave the house to mail a letter.”

Salter’s poems have been published in numerous magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and The New Republic.  She is a reviewer, essayist and a lyricist whose song cycle “Rooms of Light,” with music by Fred Hersch, premiered at Lincoln Center in 2007.  Her children’s book, “The Moon Comes Home,” was published in 1989 and her play, “Falling Bodies,” premiered in 2004.  She is also a co-editor of “The Norton Anthology of Poetry.” In October Knopf, publisher of all of Salter’s books, will publish her edited collection, “The Selected Poems of Amy Clampitt.”

In 2007, Salter joined faculty at Johns Hopkins University as a professor after 23 years of teaching at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities as well as Director of Graduate Studies for The Writing Seminars department at Hopkins. In addition to poetry workshops, in which she often concentrates on the uses of form, her recent undergraduate courses include Four American Women Poets: Dickinson, Moore, Bishop, Clampitt as well as The Poetry of War.  Recent graduate courses examine the work of W.H. Auden, the modern sonnet and the parallel work of the expatriate poets Heaney, Walcott, and Brodsky.

“A Phone Call to the Future” and “Open Shutters” will be available for sale at the reading in McDaniel Lounge. The event is free and open to the public.

The Bothe lecture brings a visiting writer to campus for one day to meet with student writers and to give a public reading and lecture. B. Christopher Bothe, a member of the Class of 1972, was a poet, award-winning journalist, and printer who died in 1984. Bothe’s family and friends developed the lecture in his memory in 1987.