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2011-12 Wittenberg Series Concludes With Koppenhaver Literary Lecture By Poet Naomi Shihab Nye

March 30, 2012  
 Filed in Community, Events

Springfield, Ohio – Best-selling poet Naomi Shihab Nye will speak at the Wittenberg Series-sponsored Dr. Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 9, in Bayley Auditorium in Wittenberg University’s Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center.

Like all Wittenberg Series events, Nye’s presentation is open to the public free of charge. The Dr. Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture, named for the longtime Wittenberg professor of English who passed away in 1993, is presented with appreciation for the life and inspiration of Dr. Koppenhaver through sponsorship by the Ellen, Lloyd, Margaret and Lanty Smith Endowed Fund for Wittenberg.

Born to a Palestinian father and American mother, Nye grew up in St. Louis, Mo., Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. Drawing on her heritage, the cultural diversity of San Antonio and her experiences traveling throughout the world, Nye uses her writing to attest to shared humanity. Author and/or editor of more than 25 volumes, Nye has written 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, and You and Yours, a best-seller released in 2006.

Nye has also written seven prize-winning poetry anthologies for young readers, including The Same Sky, The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems & Paintings from the Middle East, and What Have You Lost? She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress), and she is the recipient of several awards, including the Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets and the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award. In 2010, Nye was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

Prior to the lecture, Nye will meet with students for an English department colloquium.

A distinguished professor, musician, author and critic, Koppenhaver joined Wittenberg’s faculty in 1961. Recipient of Wittenberg’s top faculty prize, the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, and a Fulbright Scholar, Koppenhaver was also a noted tuba player, having played with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Band in the early 1950s. In addition, Koppenhaver earned an international reputation as a librettist following several collaborations with composer Robert J. Haskins, Wittenberg class of 1961. Together the two partnered on numerous critically acclaimed musical and dramatic projects, including The Masque of Red Death, A Piano Comes to Arkansas, and The Night Luther Died.

An expert on the music of American composer Charles Ives and British poet T.S. Eliot, Koppenhaver also drew high praise for his play Transparent Morning, which premiered in 1975.  He was eventually named an Honorary Alumnus of Wittenberg University, where he taught until his passing in 1993 at the age of 61. Koppenhaver earned his Ph.D. from Duke University, his M.A. from Ohio University, and his B.A. from Lebanon Valley College.

The Wittenberg Series brings distinguished lecturers and performing artists of national and international prominence to the Wittenberg campus and Springfield community. To make special arrangements, reserve a Series poster, or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Jeannine Fox at 937-398-0382 or via e-mail at

Written By: Ryan Maurer


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