Literary Arts Institute Lectures


Solmaz Sharif Literary Arts Institute Reading


Solmaz Sharif

Document Type


Publication Date



Solmaz Sharif, an award-winning writer and poet, will conduct a public reading at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Colman Theater at the Benedicta Arts Center, College of Saint Benedict.

Sharif will be discussing her first book, “Look,” which was published in 2016 by Graywolf Press and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry. Her reading is free and open to the public.

“Look” asks readers to see the ongoing costs of war through the loss of human lives abetted by the insidious use of everyday speech “weaponized” as military terminology. The title “Look,” for example, is derived from its military usage as the period during which a mine can be exploded.

In this virtuosic array of poems interspersed with terms from a dictionary used by the Department of Defense, Sharif turns the language back on itself to tackle issues of deep consequence around the world. Her poems reconstruct the experience for many, as they watched their loved ones perish as a result of war and conflict.

“Look” was one of The New York Times Book Review’s 100 Notable Books of 2016; A Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2016; the Washington Post’s Best Poetry Collection of 2016; one of The New Yorker’s Books We Loved in 2016; and the San Francisco Chronicle’s 100 Recommended Books of 2016.

Sharif was born in Istanbul to Iranian parents. The family immigrated to California when she was 11 years old.

After studying poetry at the University of California Berkeley, she received her master’s degree in fine arts from New York University. Sharif is currently a lecturer at Stanford University.

Sharif will also be residency Nov. 15-16 at CSB and Saint John’s University. Her residency is sponsored by the Literary Arts Institute (LAI) at CSB and by the Manitou Fund.

The LAI is a unique organization, founded in 1997, to foster creative writing, publishing and interaction between students and writers. LAI brings nationally recognized authors to the college for a visiting writers series (Writers Writing), promotes literary events, holds conferences (Inside Books), supports publications (S. Mariella Gable Prize), and encourages the artistry of fine letterpress (Welle Book Arts Studio).

With its local and national partners, such as Graywolf Press, LAI is able to bring writers and their work together with readers on campus, in Minnesota and beyond.

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