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Paley to be in residence

Montgomery Fellow is Vermont's Poet Laureate

Novelist and poet Grace Paley will be in residence as a Montgomery Fellow during the winter term. She and her husband, Bob Nichols, will be on campus in February. Paley will hold office hours for students, conduct workshops, meet with various other student groups at Montgomery House, attend classes and present a public reading of her work at a date to be announced. A resident of Thetford and a familiar figure in the Upper Valley, she is the fifth Poet Laureate of Vermont.

Grace Paley
Grace Paley

Paley was the first recipient of the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit, and her fiction spans five decades, from The Little Disturbances of Man (1959) and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) to Later the Same Day (1985), Long Walks and Intimate Talks (1992) and Collected Stories (1994). In recent years, she has turned her attention almost exclusively to poetry and is the author of several collections including Leaning Forward (1985), New and Selected Poems (1992) and Begin Again: Collected Poems (1993). Her autobiography, Just As I Thought, was published in 1998.

Paley received an honorary degree from Dartmouth in 1998. The citation, referring to her story, "A Conversation with My Father," read, in part, "the narrator resists writing a simple story with a linear plot because, as she says, such a plot 'takes all hope away. Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.'"

Born in the Bronx in 1922 to anti-tsarist parents who had emigrated from Ukraine, Paley became an activist, protesting the Second World War and then Vietnam. Deeply involved in feminist and peace advocacy issues, she has been a member of the War Resister's League, Resist and Women's Pentagon Action. She has described herself as a "somewhat combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist."

In a recent profile of her work in the Guardian newspaper of London, critic Melissa Denes writes, "Her poetry and prose, remarkably consistent over five decades of work, are tough and funny, exuberant and experimental, written to be read aloud. Above all, hers is the language of the women, men and children she grew up with - poor immigrants from the old world who were learning to get along in the new." 

Over the course of her career, Paley has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, among others. She has held teaching posts at Columbia and Syracuse University, the City College of New York and Sarah Lawrence College, where she taught creative writing for over two decades.

Grace Paley and Robert Nichols will do a public reading on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 4:30 p.m. in Filene Auditorium in Moore Hall.



The Nov. 8 issue of Vox of Dartmouth reported that Montgomery Fellow Wendy Wasserstein would be in residence during the summer term. She will also be here during spring term. Her public lecture will take place on Wednesday, April 27, as reported. In addition, Terry Tempest Williams' Montgomery Fellowship has been delayed until next winter.

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Last Updated: 12/17/08