Mars Viewing At Amherst College Observatory September 6

September 3, 2003
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- A technical problem forced the cancellation of the August 30 Mars viewing, so the Amherst College Observatory will be open for viewing the red planet, still remarkably close to earth, on Saturday evening, Sept.6, if the skies are clear. No reservations are necessary, and admission is free. The observatory opens at 9 p.m., although Mars itself will not be visible before about 10:30 p.m. The Observatory is located off Snell St., near Woodside Ave. (www.amherst.edu/about_amh/visit/map/)

This viewing is sponsored by the Amherst Astronomy Association, which holds public viewings at the Amherst College Observatory every clear Saturday night except during winter. The association has a Website at www.amastro.org.

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Amherst College Professor Ilan Stavans Selects "The Poetry of Pablo Neruda"

September 2, 2003
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- In his new book, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda ($40, 800 pp., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2003), Ilan Stavans has assembled a comprehensive dual-language collection of work by the man Gabriel García Márquez has called "the greatest poet of the twentieth century-in any language." Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture (Spanish) at Amherst, observes the historical greatness of the Chilean Nobel laureate. He writes in his introduction, "Almost every significant event of the twentieth century palpitates in Neruda's poems." Yet this "biblical prophet of sorts, the voice of the voiceless," was also a lyricist of earthly love and daily life, "watchful of the disturbances of life," Stavans writes. The Poetry of Pablo Neruda is Stavans's attempt to present "an image of Neruda's entire poetic arc."

Born Neftali Basoalto, Neruda adopted his pen name in fear of his family's disapproval, and yet by the age of 25 he was already famous for Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which remains his most beloved volume. During the next 50 years, a seemingly boundless metaphorical language linked his romantic fantasies and the fierce moral and political compass-exemplified in books such as Canto General-that made him an adamant champion of the dignity of ordinary men and women.

Edited and with an introduction by Stavans, this is the most comprehensive single-volume collection of this prolific poet's work in English. Stavans has collected the finest translations of nearly 600 poems by Neruda and joined them to specially commissioned new translations that attest to Neruda's still-resounding presence in American letters.

Stavans, founder of Hopscotch: A Cultural Review, is the author of On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language, The Hispanic Condition and The Riddle of Cantinflas, and the editor of The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories and The Essential Ilan Stavans, among other books. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Latino Literature Prize, among many honors, and is currently completing The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. His work has been translated into half a dozen languages.

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Sabina Murray To Read in Amherst College Creative Writing Series Sept. 22

September 2, 2003
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.- Author Sabina Murray, whose most recent book, The Caprices, won the 2003 PEN/Faulkner award for fiction, will read from her work on Monday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. at Amherst Books, 8 Main Street in Amherst (413/256-1547). The event, co-sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The Caprices, a collection of short stories based on the Pacific Campaign, "turns the bombed-out and broken setting of World War II into a theater for humankind, where both weakness and grace are writ at large," wrote The Washington Post. "Think of war as the hostile pebble thrown into the peaceful pond," Murray said in an interview. "I'm writing about the ripples." She succeeds brilliantly, according to novelist Claire Messud, who praised the book's "fierce intensity" in The New York Times Book Review: "Dark and unflinching, these brimming, sometimes jagged stories endure powerfully in the reader's memory as they reach across continents and time with precision and-in the heart of darkness-a measure of grace."

Raised in Australia and the Philippines, Murray is a former Bunting Fellow at Harvard University and currently teaches in the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of the novel, Slow Burn, and the screenplay for Beautiful Country, a film to be released in 2004. Her stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Ontario Review, New England Review and other magazines.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center puts on a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. See the center's website at www.amherst.edu/~cwc for more information.

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Contact

Peter Rooney
Director of Public Affairs
(413) 542-2321
prooney@amherst.edu