Celebrated Poet, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduate, To Read From Their Work


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April 21, 2014

Celebrated Poet, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduate, To Read From Their Work

Poet Michael Heller To Join Short Story Writer Jessica Treat For Reading and Q&A Tuesday, April 22

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute alumnus who studied engineering and went on to be a prolific and acclaimed poet will be on campus Tuesday to read from his work and take questions from the audience.

Michael Heller, a graduate of Rensselaer, will be joined by another acclaimed writer, Jessica Treat, at the reading. The event is free, open to the public, and will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in the Sage Auditorium.

“Together they’re both very fine artists; they’re going to be a very eclectic combination,” said Shira Dentz, a lecturer of creative writing in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences who organized the event.

Heller graduated from Rensselaer with a degree in engineering in 1959; he worked in technical writing before transitioning into poetry, fiction, and criticism. He has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, essays, memoirs, and fiction since the 1960s and has collaborated with composer Ellen Fishman Johnson on several multimedia projects including an opera.

Heller has won numerous awards throughout his career, including a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Prize of the Poetry Society of America.

In a review of his work “Exigent Futures: New and Selected Poems,” Jacket Magazine writes: “From the outset Michael Heller has taken up the task of poetry with a power of brevity and an acuteness that are themselves the very markers for the immensity of the burden of language, the address to language, in language, that is the poem.”

Heller’s poetry is full of historical and literary references and has connections to his Jewish ethnicity. He will read his poetry and show some of his recent multimedia works.

Jessica Treat is the author three collections of short fiction and a professor at Northwestern Connecticut College. She was a pioneer in the early days of extremely short “flash fiction” and her works have a richly textured, dreamy feel. Treat will read from her collections.

Both Treat and Heller take questions from the audience following the reading. Heller, in particular, will be able to speak to his transition from engineer to poet. 


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit www.rpi.edu.