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Robert Frost celebration, poetry reading to be held March 26 at UW-Eau Claire

March 13, 2014
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Max Garland, current poet laureate of Wisconsin and professor of English, shown with Joan Christopherson Schmidt, donor of the Robert Frost collection.

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host the first Frederick and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry event at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, on the third floor of Centennial Hall.

The poetry event, held on the 140th anniversary of Robert Frost's birth, celebrates the university's acquisition of the Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Collection. The collection was acquired by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation from Joan Christopherson Schmidt of Milwaukee as part of the Foundation's Power of Possible campaign.

Schmidt's husband, Frederick, was a personal friend of Frost and the collection is believed to be one of the most extensive Frost collections maintained outside of academia. It contains 44 Frost books, most of which are first or rare limited editions, including many that have been signed and inscribed by the poet. Also included are manuscript materials containing handwritten poetry, Christmas cards and pamphlets, as well as dozens of books about Frost.

Members from the university and Eau Claire communities, including Chancellor James Schmidt and City Council President Kerry Kincaid, will read poems written by Frost during the event. Max Garland, the current poet laureate of Wisconsin and professor of English at UW-Eau Claire, also will serve as one of the readers.

"I'm happy to participate in an event that reminds us of the power of poetry that both acknowledges and transcends time," Garland said. "Too much of our language is built for speed, for quick consumption and then forgetting. A celebration of Frost's poetry reminds us of the value of language to do more, to probe deeply and speak clearly.

"Also, Frost's unsentimental reverence for the natural world and what it reveals to us about ourselves is particularly important at a time when distractions threaten to obscure our connection with that world. And finally, Frost represents a poetry that has meaning for people in all walks of life, not just fellow artists and writers, or English professors. Poetry is not the exclusive domain of specialists, and Robert Frost's poetry helps us remember that."

The event is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire English department, UW-Eau Claire Foundation and McIntyre Library.

The Frederick and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Dr. Carmen Manning, chair of the English department, at manninck@uwec.eduor 715-836-5838.

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