Grace Cavalieri Gives Ammerman Family Lecture

Monday, April 12, 2021
Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri, the state of Maryland’s 10th poet laureate, gave the Ammerman Family Lecture virtually to Mercersburg students and faculty on April 12, which coincides with National Poetry Month. Her talk was the second event in the school’s 2020–2021 Monday Evening Lecture Series. In the days following her lecture, Cavalieri will lead students in writing workshops through April 16.

“It's been a gift to get to know Grace Cavalieri as we've been planning for her visit,” says Michele Poacelli, who is director of the Writing Center and a member of the English faculty. “Her energy and positivity are radiant, even through Zoom calls. I can’t wait for the Mercersburg community to bask in Grace’s kindness and warmth and to practice poetry with a true master of the craft.”

Cavalieri has served Maryland’s poet laureate since 2018. She has written 21 books and chapbooks. Her poetry collections include Greatest Hits, 1975–2000 (2002), Pinecrest Rest Haven (1998), Poems: New and Selected (1994), What I Would Do for Love: Poems in the Voice of Mary Wollstonecraft (2004), and Water on the Sun (2006). What I Would Do for Love received the Paterson Poetry Prize, and Water on the Sun won the Bordighera Poetry Prize. She has written 26 plays, including Quilting the Sun, which was presented at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. 

Cavalieri has received various accolades for her work, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Silver Medal, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ George Garrett Award, the Pen-Fiction Award, two Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, the Folger Library Columbia Award, and The Washington Independent Review Lifetime Achievement Award.

She has taught poetry workshops at colleges and universities throughout the nation, and is the creator and host of “The Poet and the Poem,” a public radio series that now airs from the Library of Congress through NPR. Cavalieri is the founder of two poetry presses in Washington and is the poetry columnist for The Washington Independent Review of Books. Cavalieri lives in Annapolis, MD, where she writes full time.

Laurie Mufson, director of the arts and of the Burgin Center for the Arts, is excited for Cavalieri’s writing workshops and hopes anyone with an interest in writing chooses to participate in them. "Grace is a generous, wise woman, whose gifts offer us the chance to find our voices and explore new ways to connect with expressing them,” Mufson says.

The Ammerman Family Lecture Series brings to the community speakers of national renown who have important perspectives on the significant issues of the day and the capacity to help young people understand the relevance of such issues to their lives. Endowed in 1999, the series was made possible through the generosity of Regent Emeritus Andrew R. Ammerman ’68 and his mother, the late Josephine Ammerman, in memory of Andrew’s father, H. Max Ammerman, and his brother, Stephen C. Ammerman.

This month, Mercersburg has scheduled a series of events and workshops in honor of National Poetry Month, including: 

  • Haiku Writing Workshop with Michele Poacelli: Sunday, April 11, 7-8 p.m. in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Boone Recital Hall. Students will write poems and make ornaments to decorate a haiku tree on campus.
  • Spring Spoken Word: Saturday, April 16, 8:30-10 p.m. on the Irvine Hall porch (facing Tippetts Hall). Students who sign up will have the opportunity to perform written work or music. 
  • Poetry-Themed School Meeting: Wednesday, April 21, 1:55-2:40 p.m. Chelsea Seaby Bruno ’21, Lian Wang ’21, and Grace Piotrowski ’15 will lead this school meeting.
  • Virtual Poetry Writing Workshop with Grace Piotrowski ’15: Tuesday, April 27, 7-8 p.m. Students will have a chance to write and perform with Piotrowski.