Lies, Light, McCarthy Visiting Author Program at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Princeton, New Jersey

JANE HIRSHFIELD
2014 Visiting Author
April 3, 2014, 4:30 PM
Cor Unum

The public is welcome to join us for a reading
followed by book signing and a reception.
This event is free of charge. 

Jane Hirshfield. Photo by Nick Rozsa
Photo by Nick Rozsa
Elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2012, Jane Hirshfield is one of the most important voices in American literature today.


She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Come, Thief (2011); After (shortlisted for England’s T.S. Eliot Prize and named a “best book of 2006” by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the London Financial Times); and Given Sugar, Given Salt (a finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award). As befits a Visiting Author to Stuart in its 50th anniversary year, among her other published works is an important anthology titled Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women.

Hirshfield’s first poem was published in 1973, shortly after she graduated from Princeton University as a member of the first freshman class to admit women. In the years that followed, she has received many of the highest honors in her field.

 

About the Visiting Author Program

The goal of the Visiting Author Program is to bring world-class authors to Stuart who will share their knowledge and experiences with the students. Work on the program begins many months prior to the author's visit and culminates with Visiting Author Day.

In 2012 Naomi Shihab Nye gave a public reading in Cor Unum upon her arrival.  Her reading was followed by a book signing and a private reception in her honor.  The next morning, Ms. Nye had tea with selected Middle School students, and then spent time in the Lower School where she led a Q&A discussion with our young students. An impromptu sing-a-long with our youngest in the preschool was followed by lunch with our Senior Scholars and the faculty of the English Department.  The afternoon concluded with a private reading for Upper and Middle School students.


Bringing the Best Contemporary Authors to Stuart      

At Stuart we believe that every student, from the youngest preschooler to the graduating senior, should read and hear the best contemporary writing of her day.  To that end, Stuart’s Visiting Author Program was created in 2008 to bring the best contemporary writing into our curriculum.

Every year, the works of our Visiting Authors are integrated into every class level.  In 2009, students encountered the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry of Paul Muldoon; in 2010, the fiction of Jonathan Safran Foer was a particular highlight; and in 2011, students were honored to read the essays and fiction of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, Jhumpa Lahiri.  In the fall 2011, Stuart students eagerly began preparing for the 2012 Visiting Author, Naomi Shihab Nye, whose picture books, poems for girls, essays, fiction, and poetry collections shaped and inspired English and Language Arts classes. Through her writings and visit, 2013 novelist Edwidge Danticat gave our students a social awareness of the Haitian-American experience.  The success of the Visiting Author Program in the Lower and Middle School curricula in particular is one of our proudest achievements.

Connecting Students through Experience

Senior students do much of the work. Every year, a select group of seniors, known as "Senior Scholars," visits preschool - grade 8 classes to engage students with the work of the Visiting Author. When Jonathan Safran Foer came to visit, a student talked about the motif of a scavenger hunt in his book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and read some excerpts of the novel to kindergarten students. She then designed a magical scavenger hunt with kindergarteners that wove together a narrative. The hunt was followed by an extremely interesting conversation comparing the work of understanding a narrative to the work of a scavenger hunt.  These conversations have a profound effect on the way students think about their own writing and what the role of an ideal reader should be.  To then meet the author a week or two later, and to ask him or her questions, is to make the connection even stronger.

Stuart's Language Arts and English faculty works very hard, at grade every level, to embrace and honor the work of a new author, and spend months preparing the students for Visiting Author Day. The result is a truly unique and magical day.

Lies, Light, and McCarthy

The Visiting Author Program was the dream of a beloved alumna, faculty member, and former English department head, Victoria Flournoy McCarthy '71. A fund to support the program was established in her honor after her death, and is named after Stuart’s three former English department heads: Betty Lies, Nancy Light and Victoria McCarthy. 

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Poetry in Motion 2014 white back.jpg

The Lies, Light, McCarthy Visiting Author Program at Stuart is supported by generous donations as well as The Poetry in Motion 5K Run held each spring at the school.

2013 Visiting Author, Edwidge Danticat
2012 Visiting Author, Naomi Shihab Nye
2011 Visiting Author, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri
International best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer will be the featured author at Stuart Country Day School’s second annual Lies, Light, McCarthy Visiting Author Program.
2010 Visiting Author, International best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer
Students in the Lower School with Paul Muldoon during his visit to the school for the first Visiting Author Program.
2009 Visiting Author, Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Muldoon