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.
- Photo by Nick Rozsa
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 graduating class to include 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
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
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
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
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