MFA 50th Anniversary Celebration

Event Details

March 28—March 29, 2014

Campus Center - Marriott Center

UMass Amherst Campus

Handicap access available
Barbara McGlynn

2012 National Humanities Medalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Ashbery and Britain’s Orange Prize winner Valerie Martin are distinguished readers for the 50th anniversary celebration of the MFA for Poets and Writers on March 28th and 29th from 8-9:00 pm at the Marriott Center on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.
John Ashbery will headline Saturday evening’s program. Alumnus Rob Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress and founding publisher of the MFA’s literary journal jubilat will discuss the significance of MFAs as public art. The evening will include a salute to James Tate.

Valerie Martin, MFA alumna and celebrated author, will kick-off the anniversary celebrations on Friday evening. She will be joined by RainTaxi editor and MFA alumnus, Eric Lorberer, an advocate for independent publishing and literary culture, and other special guests.

On Saturday afternoon from 2-4:00 pm, Bartlett Hall will be transformed into a Living Museum featuring a collection of publications and ephemera recording the significant contributions that UMass faculty and alumni have made to the world of letters from the 1960s to today. Highlights include a letter from Senator Edward M. Kennedy to Professor James Tate on his 1992 Pulitzer Prize. At 4:00 pm the publications and exhibits will be delivered to the W. E. B. Du Bois Library to become part of the MFA’s Special Collection.

Valerie Martin’s newest book The Ghost of the Mary Celeste was released in January from Nan Talese/Random House. Her other books include Britain’s Orange Prize winner  Property, Trespass, Mary Reilly, and Italian Fever. Martin is a Professor of English at Mt. Holyoke College.

Eric Lorberer received his MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His essay "The Ashbery Bridge" was selected for The Best American Essays 2008. He is editor of the award-winning Rain Taxi Review of Books, and director of the Minneapolis St. Paul’s Twin Cities Book Festival.

John Ashbery’s many collections of poetry include Quick Question (2012), Planisphere (2009) and Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (2007).  His awards include the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2011 he received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation and in 2012 a National Humanities Medal, presented by President Obama at the White House.

Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress, has also worked as programs director for the Poetry Society of America and for the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses., As an MFA student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he founded jubilat, an award-winning literary journal.
The Readings on Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29 start at 8:00 pm. They are free and open to the public. Reservations appreciated. 
For more information, and to make reservations, contact Barbara McGlynn at (413) 545-0643, email, or visit


The Marriott Center is located on the 11th floor of the UMass Amherst Campus Center.

Event Category

Alumni Other Alumni