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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Poet Norah Pollard to read work at URI

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116


Pollard is daughter of Seabiscuit’s jockey


KINGSTON, R.I. –January 29, 2004--University of Rhode Island alumna Norah Pollard will give a reading of her poetry at the University of Rhode Island on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 4 p.m.

Sponsored by URI’s Center for the Humanities, Department of English, and Writers Collective, the reading will take place in the Hoffmann Room, Independence Hall, Kingston Campus. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Pollard’s new book, Leaning In will be available for sale.

The poet is the daughter of John "Red" Pollard, Seabiscuit’s jockey, whose story is told in Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book, Seabiscuit—An American Legend.

Pollard’s poem about her father in Leaning In presents an intimate and compelling portrayal of the complex man who was the most renowned jockey of the 1930s. Because of her special understanding of him, the poet was featured in the nationally broadcast PBS documentary "Seabiscuit."

The film "Seabiscuit" was released last summer by Universal Studios starring Tobey Maguire as Red Pollard and Jeff Bridges as Seabiscuit’s trainer. The movie was just nominated for six Academy Awards.

Leaning In also depicts the poet's passionate youth and turbulent later years. The poems are informed by unbridled grief and ecstasy, as well as fascination with the natural world. Laura Hillenbrand writes: "In Leaning In, Norah Pollard has created a work of singular radiance, an elegant, truthful, resonant collection. It should be read, reread, and remembered."

And this from poet Gray Jacobik: "The most heartbreaking poetry seems to require true heartbreak to inform it—would there were a less expensive way to make art. The poems in Norah Pollard’s Leaning In have spared her, and us, nothing of life’s emotional and spiritual extractions. ‘Essential Oils—are wrung,’ as Dickinson would have it. In skillful, compassionate, wise and unflinching poems, we’re reminded that the works that touch us most deeply are unself-conscious in their strategies, revelatory in their authenticity, and ‘cost’ the most to make. Fortunately, when we surrender to them, the rewards, as here with Pollard, are inestimable."

At various points in her life, Pollard has been a folk singer, waitress, nanny, teacher, solderer, and print shop calligrapher. She currently works at a Bridgeport steel company. In 1983 she received the Academy of American Poets Prize from the University of Bridgeport, and for several years was editor of The Connecticut River Review. She lives in Stratford, Conn.