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Alaskan Poet with Merrimack Valley Roots Returns for Poetry Reading at NECC

Submitted by on October 10, 2018 – 2:04 pm

Acclaimed Alaskan poet Tom Sexton was born in the Merrimack Valley, and, on Thursday, November 8, he will return to deliver a poetry reading on Northern Essex Community College’s Haverhill Campus.

Sponsored by the Northern Essex Liberal Arts: Writing Option program and the Center for Liberal Arts, the reading will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Top Notch Theater on the 3rd floor of the Spurk Building, 100 Elliott St, Haverhill.  It is free and open to the public.

Sexton attended Northern Essex for two years, from 1964 to 1966, before transferring to Salem State where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at Northern Essex, he helped found “Parnassus”, the college’s literary magazine, which is still publishing 50 years later. In 2002, he was named one of Northern Essex’s 40 notable alumni.

After Salem State, Sexton earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in English from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, soon beginning a long teaching career at the university’s Anchorage campus where he directed the MFA program. He was the Alaska Quarterly Review’s poetry editor until he retired in 1994. In 2013, the university made him an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Sexton was appointed Alaska’s poet laureate in 1995 and served until 2000 when the title was changed to state writer.

Sexton’s work has appeared in most of the leading literary journals including the “Hudson Review”, “Paris Review”, and “Poetry”. He is the author of 14 collections of poetry. Published by the University of Alaska Press, his newest collection, “Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home”, traces the steps of a 4,500-mile journey from Massachusetts to Alaska that Sexton and his wife Sharyn took the day after their wedding, more than 50 years ago.

Sexton will stay in Eastport, Maine this winter so he can spend time in his hometown of Lowell, while he completes his collected Lowell poems to be called “Cumiskey’s Alley”. He will be reading many poems from this collection during his reading at Northern Essex.

Northern Essex offers an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts: Writing Option, which teaches students how to write for different purposes and audiences.  That degree transfers to bachelor degree programs in English, writing, communications, and other general liberal arts.

For more information about this event or the Liberal Arts: Writing Option degree, contact Professor Patricia Portanova, NECC English Professor, or 978 556-3379.