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Goucher Professor Elizabeth Spires Publishes New Poetry Collection

Release date: November 05, 2008

In her forthcoming book of poetry, Elizabeth Spires, professor of English and chair of distinguished achievement at Goucher College, gives voice to the works of “outsider” artist William Edmondson.

To be released in early February 2009, “I Heard God Talking to Me: William Edmonson and His Stone Carvings” is a collection of 23 free-verse poems and photographs, including images by famed photographers Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Edward Weston, that paints a portrait of Edmondson and his art.

The son of former slaves and a janitor in Nashville, Tennessee, Edmonson heard God speaking to him one night in the early 1930s. He began to carve stone to create tombstones, birdbaths, and stylized human figures. Edmondson’s talents caught the eye of prominent members of the art world, and in 1937, he became the first black artist to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“I Heard God Talking to Me” is Spires’ second book for children, following “The Mouse of Amherst.” She is also the author of six poetry collections for adults — “Globe,” “Swan’s Island,” “Annonciade,” “Worldling,” “Now the Green Blade Rises,” and “The Wave-Maker.” Spires’ work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Paris Review, among other journals, and her honors include a Whiting Award, the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Witter Brynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

At Goucher, Spires is also the acting director of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing while her husband, acclaimed author Madison Smartt Bell, is on special leave after receiving a 2008 Strauss Living Award.