Chestertown, MD, April 19, 2002 — The Sophie Kerr Lecture Series at Washington College is pleased to present a reading by Cajun French poet Beverly Matherne on Thursday, April 25, 2002, at 4 p.m. in the College's Norman James Theatre. She will also present the lecture "The Spirit Behind the Words: Translating the Poetry of Stanley Kunitz," Friday, April 26 at 2:30 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room of the Miller Library. Both events are free and the public is invited to attend.
Born in Cajun Country west of New Orleans, Matherne grew up with the rich oral tradition and music of her region: Cajun, country western, blues and jazz. From writing in Cajun French to performing blues poetry, these influences have shaped her work. Her poetry has received national and international attention. She did an hour-long interview on NPR with Grace Cavalieri on her show "The Poet and the Poem" and has performed three times in French on CBC Radio Canada Internationale. From the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans to the United Nations in New York, she has delivered over 100 readings across the United States, Canada, and France. Since 1993, when she began to focus on poetry, she has won six first-place awards, including the Hackney Literary Award for Poetry at the Writing Today Conference in Birmingham, AL, and three first-place prizes at the Deep South Writers Conference at the University of Louisiana. In addition, she has received three Pushcart Prize nominations.
Matherne's fourth collection of poetry in facing pages of Cajun French and English, "Le blues braillant" (The Blues Cryin'), from Cross-Cultural Communications in New York, was released at World Acadian Congress in 1999. The blues collection, also available in CD format with guitar and fiddle accompaniment, is preceded by three books of free verse: "La Grande Pointe" (Grand Point), also from Cross-Cultural, 1995; "Images cadiennes" (Cajun Images) from Ridgeway Press, Detroit, 1994; and "Je me souviens de la Louisiane" (I Remember Louisiana), from March Street Press, Greensboro, NC, 1994. She recently translated into French a book of poetry by former U.S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz, which is scheduled for publication this summer by Cross-Cultural Communications.
The poet received her Ph.D. in Drama from St. Louis University and M.A. and B.A. degrees in English from University of Louisiana, at Lafayette. Matherne is a tenured, full professor on the M.F.A. writing faculty in the English Department at Northern Michigan University.