Liza McAlister Williams will offer a reading of her poetry at 7:30 pm Friday, January 25th, in Westover School’s Adams Library. The poetry reading is open to the public and admission is free.
Ms. Williams lives, writes, and teaches in Brooklyn, New York. For three decades she has been teaching Freshman English at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she explores with her college art students “the ways the creative process in poetry and drama resembles, and resonates with, that in the plastic arts.”
“In my teaching of literature, poetry, and poetry writing,” Ms. Williams said, “I am always astounded by how much vigor and muscle tone transfers to my own work.” Working with students today, she has found that “their use of language tends to be vague and their idea of poetry is that it should be emotive but mysterious. My job is to bring to them poems that seem benign and ‘simple’ but that have accessible aspects of figurative or symbolic meaning that plug right into the universal human vein. A good poem hits you in the solar plexus!”
“What I learn from reading great poems with students and from helping students create their own poems,” Ms. Williams said, “is that one’s tools – word choice, order of information, imagery, musicality … need to be marshaled in the service of saying something true and affecting but also beautiful and surprising. This takes lots of work, draft after draft, collaboration, reconsideration, and humility.”
Ms. Williams is the advisor to the Pratt Institute’s twice-yearly literary and art magazine, serves as the coordinator of the Academy of American Poets’ annual campus contest, and has exhibited or read her work at a number of Pratt venues or events such as the exhibitions “Perspicuous: Work on Space and Image,” and “Crossing Disciplines: Books.” She has worked on projects and committees in writing across the curriculum, writing and the environment, and writing in the schools.
Ms. Williams holds a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.F.A. from Columbia University, where, she said, “I majored in creative non-fiction writing but took almost as many poetry courses.” She said she and her husband raised their family in “a comfortably dilapidated Brooklyn row-house whose south-facing garden is the inspiration for many of my poems.”
Her reading of her sonnet “Brooklyn Music” opened the Brooklyn Community Chorus’s “Word and Music” concert. Other poems have recently appeared in The New Hopkins Review, Blue Unicorn, Light Quarterly, Pasque Petals, and other publications.
Westover’s Visiting Poets Program is underwritten by the Nancy May Rennell Field ’35 Fund.
Parking is available in front of the School and along South Street. All visitors must check in with the North Office, located in the Main Building of the school. For directions to Westover please visit westoverschool.org or call 203.758.2423.
Westover is a selective boarding and day school in grades 9-12 with 205 students from 16 states and 17 countries. The School offers its students more than 20 Advanced Placement courses as well as signature programs in science, engineering, art history, and music.