Fairfield University professor Kim Bridgford named Connecticut Poetry Circuit poet


Kim Bridgford, Ph. D., professor of English at Fairfield University, has been chosen the 2007 touring poet for the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. Each year the organization selects an outstanding poet to give readings throughout the state and meet with college-age poets. Poets who have traveled in this series have included Robert Pinsky, X. J. Kennedy, and Mark Jarman.

Dr. Bridgford, a Wallingford, Conn. resident, will embark on the Connecticut Poetry Circuit tour next month and it will take her to schools throughout the state. Scheduled stops include the University of Hartford on October 23 at 12:15 p.m.; Tunxis Community College on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.; Middlesex Community College on Oct. 25 at 12:30 p.m.; Western Connecticut State University on Oct. 30 at 12:30 p.m.; Wesleyan University on Oct. 31 at 8 p.m.; Trinity College on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m.; Manchester Community College on Nov. 7 at 8 p.m.; and Southern Connecticut State University on Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. A tour date at Fairfield will be announced soon.

Known for her lively, passionate readings, Dr. Bridgford will recite poems and try to demystify the art of writing poetry. "It's an extraordinary honor to be selected. I hope to allay people's fears about what poetry is, and perhaps instill in them an inclination to write a poem."

Her accomplishments laid the groundwork for being selected touring poet, according to the Poetry Circuit. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, she's the author of three books of poetry, Undone (David Robert Books, 2003), nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Instead of Maps, (David Robert Books, 2005) nominated for the Poets' Prize, and the recently published, In the Extreme: Sonnets about World Records, (Contemporary Poetry Review Press, 2007).

On the upcoming tour, Dr. Bridgford will read excerpts from her new collection, "In the Extreme: Sonnets about World Records," for which she received the 2007 Donald Justice Poetry Award from the West Chester University Poetry Center in Pennsylvania. The Center is dedicated to furthering the study and appreciation of poetry.

Justice, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, was known as a masterful and exacting craftsman. Those traits define the award named in his honor, an award made possible through the Iris N. Spencer Poetry Awards. The honor held special meaning for Dr. Bridgford, an Illinois native. "One of my most profound experiences was being mentored by Donald Justice. He was a teacher at the Iowa Writers' Workshop (at the University of Iowa), where I was a teaching and writing fellow. He encouraged me early on to continue with my poetry writing."

Poet and judge R.S. Gwynn noted, "Kim Bridgford's In The Extreme would be a considerable achievement for its simply being a flawlessly realized sonnet sequence; when you factor in that every poem is inspired by an entry in "The Guinness Book of World Records" it climbs to the level of tour de force." She wrote it in part because she was fascinated by people who hold world records and wanted to commemorate them. Her favorites are about Mike, the chicken that lived the longest without a head, and the woman with the longest fingernails in the world. "I did do a lot of research for the book, but I took some liberties. It's playful."

Dr. Bridgford earned a Ph. D. from the University of Illinois and an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the first graduate program in creative writing. It counts among its alumni, Jane Smiley, Philip Roth, and Tracy Kidder. She and Michael C. White, Ph. D., author and professor of English at Fairfield, are editors of Dogwood, Fairfield's journal of poetry and prose, and she is the editor of the online women's magazine, "Mezzo Cammin." Her docket is also busy writing Take-Out: Sonnets about Fortune Cookies, and she's working on a three-book project with Kathryn Jo Yarrington, professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Fairfield, featuring photographs and sonnets based on Iceland, Venezuela and Bhutan.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 21, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 50