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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Declamation Day 2010


Tuesday, April 13, 2010
3:30-5:30 pm
Bezanson Hall

Comedic, dramatic, political... experience a new interpretation of timeless texts as UMass students stand up and make themselves heard - and compete for cash prizes.

Students will demonstrate their oratorical skills by reading aloud from a text of their choice. Readings will range from poems to political speeches, comic stories to eulogies, folk tales to satire, and may come from any time period, place, or culture.

The event will also feature guest performances by Professors Joselyn Almeida-Beveridge, Sabina Murray, and Ron Welburn.

Check out this year's winning entries!

Watch some of the performances here!




View last year's entries

Download the event poster

Guest Performer Bios

Judge Bios

Questions? Contact Professor John Hennessy,

Guest Performer Bios


Joselyn Almeida-Beveridge is Assistant Professor of British Romanticism and Atlantic Studies. Her book, Reimagining the Transatlantic, 1780-1890 (Aldergate: Ashgate, forthcoming), argues for a transcultural understanding of South-North Atlantic relations. She is also the editor of Romanticism and the Anglo-Hispanic Imaginary (Amsterdam: Rodopi, forthcoming), a collection of essays that documents the intersections and afterlives of the cultural exchanges between Britain, Spain, and Latin America from 1780 to 1830. Her recent essays have appeared in the European Romantic Review, Romantic Circles Praxis, and various edited collections. Her teaching enthusiasms include Romantic poetry and the literature of piracy and mutiny.


Sabina Murray was born in 1968 and grew up in Australia and the Philippines. She is the author of the novels Forgery (Grove, 2007), A Carnivore’s Inquiry (Grove, 2004), and Slow Burn (Ballantine, 1990). Her short story collection The Caprices (Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Grove 2007) was the winner of the 2002 PEN/Faulkner award. Her stories are anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and Charlie Chan is Dead II: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian Fiction. She is the writer of the screenplay for the film Beautiful Country, which was an Independent Spirit Award Best First Screenplay nominee. Murray completed her Master of Arts as a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and is a former Bunting Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University and a recipient of a major grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and served as the Roger Murray Writer in Residence at Phillips Academy Andover. She recently received the Brown Literary Award from the University of Pittsburgh. Murray is Professor of English and directs the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.


Ron Welburn, who is from Berwyn, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, is a widely published poet whose work recently appears in I WAS INDIAN: An Anthology of Native American Poetry, and a special Native American prose-poem issue of SENTENCE. Ron Welburn attended the historic Returning the Gift Festival of Native North American Writers at the University of Oklahoma in 1992. His sixth book, Coming Through Smoke and the Dreaming, was published in 2000.


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Judge Bios


Thomas E. Bezanson is an attorney with over 30 years of experience in litigation and arbitration, a history that has provided him with ample opportunity to observe and make effective presentations. Mr. Bezanson, of counsel in the firm Cohen & Gresser, LLP in New York City, is a member of many professional organizations and the recipient of various awards, notably for his pro bono work. Mr. Bezanson’s connection to UMass dates back to 1964 when his father, Philip T. Bezanson, was appointed head of the Music Department.


William Hite’s reputation as an engaging and expressive artist has led to engagements with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Dresdner Philharmonie, American Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Washington Bach Consort, New York City Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, New York Collegium, National Arts Center Orchestra (Ottawa), Charlotte Symphony, Boston Baroque, Toronto Consort. Emmanuel Music, Tafelmusik and Philharmonia Baroque under the direction of Bernard Haitink, Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Nicholas McGegan, Christopher Hogwood, Jane Glover, Robert Spano, Grant Llewellyn, Leon Botstein, John Harbison, Craig Smith and Peter Schreier. Mr. Hite’s upcoming engagements include Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Theater an der Wien and Il corronazione di Poppea,at the Boston Early Music Festival. Recent engagements include his Carnegie Hall debut with Music Sacra under the late Richard Westenburg and his Kennedy Center debut with the Washington Chorus in Haydn’s Paukenmesse as well as appearances with the Boston Symphony in Fidelio, the St, Matthew Passion and Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ with the Dresdner Philharmonie, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Vermont Symphony, Britten’s War Requiem at Duke University, King Arthur with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, Bernard Rands’ Canti del sole with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Mattheson’s Boris Goudenow with the Boston Early Music Festival. Mr. Hite is Senior Lecturer and coordinator of the voice area at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.


Valerie Martin is a novelist and short story writer. She has taught at UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, Loyola University New Orleans, The University of New Orleans, The University of Alabama, and Sarah Lawrence College, among other institutions. She is a graduate of the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at UMass. Her novel Property (2003) won the prestigious Orange Prize. Her other fictional works include Set in Motion (1978), Alexandra (1979), A Recent Martyr (1987), The Consolation of Nature and Other Stories (1988), The Great Divorce (1993), Italian Fever (1999), The Unfinished Novel and Other Stories (2006), and Trespass (2007), as well as Salvation: Scenes from the Life of St. Francis (2001), a biography of St. Francis of Assisi. Her most recent novel, The Confessions of Edward Day, was published in August 2009. Her 1990 novel, Mary Reilly, a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of a servant in the doctor's house, was released in 1996 as the Columbia TriStar Pictures film, Mary Reilly. The short subject film Surface Calm (2001) is based on her short story of the same title from her first book, Love (1977).


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