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Byron Herbert Reece Lecture Series

The Byron Herbert Reece Lecture Series was established in 1966 in memory of Byron Herbert Reece (1917-1958), author, poet and Young Harris College teacher. This lecture series honors his memory and contributions to the world of letters by bringing noted writers to campus. Past visiting writers include novelist Terry Kay, Irish poet Evan Boland, former Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins, novelist Sharyn McCrumb and former Poet Laureate of Georgia Bettie Sellers.


Edward Hirsch, 2015

The 2015 Reece Lecture featured Edward Hirsch, prize-winning poet and president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Hirsch is the author four books of prose and nine books of poetry, including Gabriel, long-listed for the National Book Award, and The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems, praised by The New York Times as “a kind of model for the growth of poetic intelligence.” His first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers, received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University. Wild Gratitude, his second collection, received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Along with serving as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Hirsch has sought to expand poetry’s audience with his critical works as well as his own collections of poetry. In 1999, he published How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, which became a national bestseller. Hirsch has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a MacArthur “genius” award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome, and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award. He attended Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Ph.D. in folklore. Hirsch taught at both Wayne State University and the University of Houston, and was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2008. 

Kevin Young, 2014

Widely regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation, Young finds meaning and inspiration in African American history and music, particularly the blues. Young is the author of eight books of poetry and the editor of eight others. His nonfiction book, “The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness” won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and PEN Open Award, and was also a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. He is the recipient of a 2012 American Book Award for “Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels” and winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize for “Jelly Roll: A Blues.” Young was also a finalist for the National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Young was awarded a Stegner Fellowship in poetry at Stanford University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and reviews including The New Yorker, New York Times Book Review and Paris Review.


Mark Doty, 2013

Prize-winning author of poetry and prose Mark Doty serves as the director of Writers House and professor of English at Rutgers University. He is the author of over a dozen books of poetry and prose, including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, winner of the 2008 National Book Award for Poetry. His eight books of poems and four books of nonfiction prose have been honored by the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers' Award and, in the United Kingdom, the T.S. Eliot Prize. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

Natasha Trethewey, 2012

Natasha Trethewey is author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press); Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin), for which she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize; Bellocq’s Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002) which was named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association; and Domestic Work (Graywolf, 2000). Her collection Thrall is due for publication in 2012.

She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. Her poems have appeared in such journals and anthologies as American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, Gettysburg Review, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry.  At Emory University she is Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Her first collection of poetry, Domestic Work (2000), was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. In her introduction to the book, Dove said, "Trethewey eschews the Polaroid instant, choosing to render the unsuspecting yearnings and tremulous hopes that accompany our most private thoughts—reclaiming for us that interior life where the true self flourishes and to which we return, in solitary reverie, for strength."

Enid Shomer, 2011

Enid Shomer is well-known for her award-winning poetry and fiction, having published four collections of poetry and several works of short fiction. Selections from her poetry collections, including Stars at Noon: Poems from the Life of Jacqueline Cochran and Black Drum, appear in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Paris Review, Best American Poetry, The New Criterion and other notable publications.

Shomer's poetry has earned many awards, including two fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, three fellowships from the State of Florida and the Eunice Tietjens Prize from Poetry. She is the recipient of the Iowa Fiction Prize for her collection of stories, Imaginary Men,  as well a winner of the LSU/Southern Review Prize, both given annually for the best first collection of short fiction by an American author.

Shomer has taught as a visiting writer at the University of Arkansas, Florida State University and the Ohio State University, where she was the Thurber House Writer-in-Residence. Recently, she was appointed Poetry Series Editor for the University of Arkansas Press. Shomer currently lives in Tampa, Florida, and is working on a novel.

Jeremy Collins, 2009

Jeremy Collins graduated from Young Harris College in 1997 before attending the University of Georgia, where he graduated with degrees in English and religious studies. He later attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he received his M.F.A. in creative writing. In 2007, his essay “Shadow Boxing” was published in The Georgia Review. The essay was later chosen for a Pushcart Prize and republished in the 2009 Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. Jeremy and his wife, Alice, currently reside in Knoxville, Tenn., where he is at work on a memoir about friendship, loss and his time at Young Harris College.

Meg Franklin, 2009

After joint enrolling at Young Harris College her junior and senior years of high school, Meg Franklin received her B.A. from Washington and Lee University. She then received her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Florida. Her poems have appeared in StandFourteen HillsSalamanderContrary and Harpur Palate.

Rosemary Royston, 2009

Rosemary Royston lives in northeast Georgia. She graduated from Young Harris College in 1989 and then graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in English. She completed her M.A. degree in organizational management with the University of Phoenix in 2003 and completed her M.F.A. in poetry with Spalding University in November 2009. Her work has been published in The Comstock ReviewMain Street Rag and Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine. She has also had one of her poems featured in a Rollins Planetarium show at Young Harris College. Royston has taught “Tools of the Craft” at the Institute for Continuing Learning at Young Harris College.

Kathryn Striping Byer, 2008

Randall Kenan, 2007

Randall Kenan has taught creative writing at a number of colleges, including Columbia University, Vassar College, and Duke University. He is currently a member of the faculty at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His published works include A Visitation of SpiritsLet the Dead Bury Their DeadJames BaldwinA Time Not Here: The Mississippi DeltaWalking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, and The Fire This Time. His works have been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction and the Southern Book Award. Let the Dead Bury Their Dead was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was among The New York Times Notable Books of 1992. He is currently working on a novel, The Fire and the Baptism, set in North Carolina and New York City; and a book about the North Carolina hog industry.

Janice Moore, 2006

Janice Moore, a professor of English at Young Harris College since 1963, has published poetry in more than fifty journals and periodicals, including The Georgia ReviewSouthern Poetry ReviewAtlanta ReviewPotpourriThe Chattahoochee ReviewPrairie SchoonerSouthern Humanities Review, as well as in over a dozen anthologies including The Bedford Introduction to LiteratureThe Bedford Introduction to Poetry, and Women Writing in Appalachia. A native of Atlanta, Moore served as poetry editor for Georgia Journal from 1985 to 1997. In 1996 she co-edited Like a Summer Peach: Sunbright Poems and Old Southern Recipes. Three times she was the recipient of the Callanwolde Poetry Prize presented at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta. Her latest collection of poetry.

Bettie Sellers, 2005

Bettie Sellers is a former Poet Laureate of Georgia and an emeritus professor at Young Harris College. Sellers, known for her poems about life in southern Appalachia, taught English at Young Harris College for 32 years. Her published works include four volumes of poetry: Spring Onions and CornbreadMorning of the Red-Tailed HawkLiza's Monday and Other Poems, and Wild Ginger. Sellers, who was a founding member of the Byron Herbert Reece Society and currently serves on its board of directors, also published The Bitter Berry: The Life of Byron Herbert Reece.
Sellers was named Author of the Year in 1979 by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists; received the Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 1987; was named 1992 Poet of the Year by the American Pen Women; was Poet Laureate of Georgia 1997-1999. In 2003, Sellers received the Stanley W. Lindberg Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to Georgia’s literary culture

R.T. Smith, 2004

R. T. Smith, who lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia, has edited Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review since 1995. His numerous books of poetry include The Hollow Log LoungeBrightwoodMessengerHunter-Gatherer, and The Cardinal Heart. He has also published a collection of stories entitled Faith and edited, with Sarah Kennedy, Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia (2003). Both Trespasser and The Cardinal Heart were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Sarah Kennedy, 2004

Sarah Kennedy's first book, From the Midland Plain, was published in 1999 by Tryon, a small press in North Carolina. Her second, Flow Blue, won the 2001 Elixir Press contest. She is a co-editor, with R.T. Smith, of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia.

To learn more about Byron Herbert Reece, please visit The Byron Herbert Reece Society