Area poet to read at Juniata

HUNTINGDON – Julia Spicher Kasdorf, a native of Lewistown, will give a reading of her award-winning poetry at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Beeghly Library on the Juniata College campus.

The reading is free and open to the public.

Kasdorf’s poems are typically situated in the Allegheny Mountains and surrounding areas. Themes in her work include rural economic depression, motherhood and intimate accounts of life in rural America. Her poetry – a lyrical and often humorous blend of colloquial experience and intellectual reflection – rejects violence and celebrates youthful innocence and morality.

In her book “Sleeping Preacher,” which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the Great Lakes College’s Association Award for New Writing, Kasdorf offers a firsthand glimpse into Mennonite culture, a branch of Christianity that values peace, simplicity and community service. Though the Mennonite community is welcoming and promotes acceptance, it is often private, and Kasdorf’s accounts of her childhood experiences are uncommon.

“More than ever, we need to be aware that there are many cultures in the world, and indeed many cultures in the United States,” said Peter Goldstein, John Downey Benedict Professor of English at Juniata College. “If we learn to understand where others come from, we are more likely to see the shaping factors in our own cultures.”

Kasdorf is currently a professor of English and women’s studies at Penn State. In 2009, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and her works have appeared in publications like The New Yorker and The Paris Review.