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Writers@Monmouth will celebrate National Poetry Month

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College’s Writers@Monmouth series will celebrate National Poetry Month with a poetry reading by nationally known poets Jeff Gundy and Keith Ratzlaff.

The final event in the annual series of visiting writers will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 9 in the Mellinger Center on the Monmouth College campus. It is free and open to the public.

“These two writers are not only wonderful poets, but they have long been friends with one another, encouraging and critiquing one another’s work,” said Assistant Professor of English David Wright. “I think it’s great for our student writers to see how a long-lasting literary friendship can help writers sustain one another over time. I suspect some of our writers on campus are forging those kinds of friendships now.”

In addition to their long writing careers, both Gundy and Ratzlaff have been creative writing and literature professors at small colleges similar to Monmouth – Gundy at Bluffton (Ohio) University and Ratzlaff at Central College in Pella, Iowa.

“Both Jeff and Keith get what a liberal arts college does – how it shapes writers to have a broad understanding of the world and a deep understanding of ourselves,” said Wright.

Gundy’s poems, essays and reviews have been published in dozens of premier journals and periodicals, including The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Creative Non Fiction, Shenandoah, Image, The Sun and Antioch Review. His seventh book of poems, Abandoned Homeland (Bottom Dog, 2015) was a finalist for the Ohioana Poetry Award, and he was named Ohio Poet of the Year for Somewhere Near Defiance (Anhinga, 2014).

Gundy has also published four books of essays and creative nonfiction, including Songs from an Empty Cage: Poetry, Mystery, Anabaptism, and Peace (Cascadia, 2013). He has spent sabbaticals at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and as a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Salzburg in Austria.

Ratzlaff’s poems and reviews have also appeared widely, including work in Poetry Northwest (winning the Theodore Roethke Award), and in publications including Arts and Letters, McSweeney's, New England Review, The Threepenny Review, Colorado Review and The Journal. His books of poetry include Man Under a Pear Tree, Dubious Angels and his most recent collection, Then A Thousand Crows, all published by Anhinga Press. His literary awards include a Pushcart Prize and inclusion in the 2009 edition of The Best American Poetry.

Also a widely published essayist and critic, Gundy will judge the English Department’s annual Webster-Graham Prize for Creative Writing by Monmouth students. The results will be announced as part of the reading.

The Mellinger Center is located on East Clinton Ave., one block east of North Sixth St.