Poet Robin Becker named 2010-11 Penn State laureate

May 06, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- Robin Becker, professor of English and women's studies in the College of the Liberal Arts and a nationally acclaimed poet, has been named the 2010-11 Penn State laureate.

Becker is the third Penn State laureate, succeeding Anthony T. Leach, associate professor of music and music education, and inaugural laureate Kim Cook, professor of music in cello, both in Penn State's College of Arts and Architecture.

The Penn State laureate is a full-time University faculty member in the humanities or fine arts who is assigned half-time for one academic year to bring an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic and human perspective and awareness to a broad array of audiences. The laureate will be a highly visible representative of Penn State who will appear regularly at events University-wide and throughout the Commonwealth at community and statewide events.

"As the 2010-2011 Penn State laureate, I will initiate activities that engage students, alumni and others in the deep pleasures of poetry -- language crafted and shaped from words, the ”ordinary”' material we all use every day," said Becker. "Through readings and discussions, I'll present poems by myself and others, exploring how and why poems move us. Working with new technologies, I hope to combine 'virtual' activities with campus visits throughout the state.”

A member of Penn State's faculty since 1994, Becker has published seven books of poetry and has been highly sought contributor, judge, reviewer and critic in the field of poetry for nearly two decades. She has logged more than 125 speaking engagements across the United States, including readings of her work at numerous universities and venues including the National Arts Club and the New York Public Library. Becker has received many awards for her work, including the 1997 Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry for her book of poems titled "All-American Girl." From Prairie Schooner magazine, she received the 2010 Glenna Luschi Award for Excellence in Writing for 10 poems published in that journal.

In addition, she has been active in service to Penn State, her college and department, and in 2000 was honored with the University's George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Becker graduated from Boston University with undergraduate and master's degrees in English and creative writing–poetry, respectively. She began her faculty career in The Writing Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In spring 1992 she served as a visiting professor of English at Kent State University. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in creative writing in 1989, a 1995-96 fellowship by the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College and a 2000-01 fellowship as the William Steeple Davis Artist-in-Residence in Orient, N.Y. In addition, she has had residencies at artist colonies including The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ucross Foundation and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico.

Becker's first book of poetry, "Personal Effects," was published in 1979; her subsequent published collections include ”Giacometti's Dog," "All-American Girl," "The Horse Fair" and, most recently, in 2006, "Domain of Perfect Affection," all published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. The Frick Art and historical Center published “Venetian Blue,” a chapbook of Becker’s poems about the visual arts.

She is a contributing editor to Ploughshares magazine and The Women’s Review of Books, where she also serves as poetry editor and writes a column on the national poetry scene called “Field Notes.” Her book reviews and poetry often appear in prestigious national literary journals, including Prairie Schooner, the Georgia Review, the Kenyon Review and Poetry magazine. Becker has been featured twice on the cover of The American Poetry Review.

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Read "Our Best Selves," a poem by Becker written in in memory of Miriam Goodman and published in the November/December 2009 issue of The American Poetry Review, at http://www.aprweb.org/poem/our-best-selves online.

  • Robin Becker, professor of English and women's studies, 2010-11 Penn State laureate

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated November 18, 2010