Martín Espada, winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Poetry, will speak at the annual Michaelson, Briner & Kildahl Literary Symposium on Thursday, Nov. 3, at Wartburg College.


Espada will read selections of his poetry at 6 p.m. in the McCaskey Lyceum inside the Saemann Student Center. He will sign books after his talk, and Raccoon River Press will have copies of “Floaters,” Espada’s National Book Award winner, available for purchase. The North American Review will also sell copies of its most recent issue, which features Espada. Espada will meet with English and Scholars Program students earlier in the day.

Espada has published more than 20 books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. He has received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship, a Letras Boricuas Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His book of essays and poems “Zapata’s Disciple” was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona. A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

“We’re thrilled to bring an author of this caliber to campus,” said Zak Montgomery, Wartburg’s Harry and Polly Slife Professor in Humanities. “It’s a great chance for the community to hear Martin’s powerful work, and I’m excited for our students to learn from him as well.”

The Michaelson, Briner & Kildahl Literary Symposium is presented by the Slife Professorship in Humanities with generous support from Steve and Jane Noah; the Wartburg Scholars Program; the Saemann Chair in Global Communities; the Regents Chair in Ethics; the Department of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies; and other donors to the MBK Endowment.

The symposium was created through a leadership gift commitment from the Noahs and Dale and Judy Goeke in support of an annual event that would bring an author, poet or other literary figure to campus to engage students, faculty, staff and the broader community in activities to stimulate critical thought. It celebrates the legacy of former Wartburg English professors Sam Michaelson (1966-92), K.D. Briner (1966-76) and Phillip Kildahl (1961-77 and 1980-82).


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