campus news & events

Colby-Sawyer College Hosts Reading by N.H. Poet Laureate Walter E. Butts

NEW LONDON, N.H. – Colby-Sawyer College will host New Hampshire Poet Laureate Walter E. Butts for a reading and discussion of his poetry. The event is part of the Department of Humanities' Word by Word series, which celebrates writing and poetry.

The reading will take place on Monday, Nov. 2, at 4 p.m. in the archives of the college's Susan Colgate Cleveland Library and Learning Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Butts, a resident of Manchester, N.H., was named the state's 11th N.H. poet laureate in March 2009 and will serve a five-year term. He is the author of several poetry collections, including Sunday Evening at the Stardust Café (1st World Library, 2006) – winner of the 2006 Iowa Source Poetry Book Prize and a finalist for the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry from the University of California at Fresno – and Movies in a Small Town (Mellen Poetry Press, 1997).

The recipient of a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fellowship Award and a nominee for two Pushcart Prizes, Butts frequently publishes his poetry in such magazines as the Atlanta Review, Cimarron Review, Mid-American Review and Poetry East. His most recent chapbooks are Sunday Factory (Finishing Line Press, 2006) and What to Say if the Birds Ask (Pudding House Publications, 2007).

A faculty member of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., Butts teaches in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in creative writing. He previously served as associate professor of English at Hesser College in Manchester, N.H., and has taught in poetry workshops at the University of New Hampshire and for the New Hampshire Writers' Project. In addition to his teaching, he has been involved in a number of literary projects and was co-editor of the journal, Crying Sky: Poetry & Conversation, together with his wife, poet S Stephanie. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College.

In his role as the state's poet laureate, which comes with no specified duties or compensation, Butts seeks to advance the visibility of poetry and poets. He finds that poetry is especially important to individuals and societies in times of great turmoil.

"There's a fantastic community of poets in the state,” he says. “I really believe that poetry, in many, many ways, is the literary form that is closest to expressing the human condition, the human spirit,” he said. “This appointment compels me, in a very positive sense, to really be involved, to really participate. It's an ideal situation for a poet to be in.”

Butts replaces former poet laureate Patricia Fargnoli of Walpole. The N.H. State Council on the Arts and the N.H. Department of Cultural Resources nominated him for the appointment, and the Poetry Society of New Hampshire then recommended him to Gov. John Lynch. His nomination was ratified by the state Executive Council on March 3, 2009.

The new poet laureate plans to work with independent bookstores and arts organizations around New Hampshire to offer opportunities for the public to connect with poets and poetry. He also hopes to assist New Hampshire poets in connecting with small publishers in the state and make himself available for poetry readings as well.

A native of the town of Le Roy, N.Y., Butts has lived in several cities with active poetry communities, including Rochester, N.Y., Boston, Albany and New York City. Along the way, he worked in human services jobs and took college courses, writing poetry all the while. Before moving to Manchester seven years ago, he lived in Portsmouth for close to a decade, where he and S Stephanie organized poetry reading series on the Seacoast.

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Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000.