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Reading and signing of new poetry anthology to be held in Las Cruces

A book signing of the new poetry and essay collection, "Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability," co-edited by staff member Sheila Black at New Mexico State University, will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at NMSU.

A photo of the cover of the book, "Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability."
The cover of the new poetry anthology "Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability," co-edited by Sheila Black, prospect research coordinator for University Advancement at NMSU. (Submitted photo)

"Beauty is a Verb" was published by Cinco Puntos Press of El Paso and was released Sept. 25. It will be sold at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at NMSU.

Noted critic Ron Silliman recently wrote that the book is "going to be one of the defining collections of the 21st Century." An anthology of poetry by American poets with physical disabilities, the poems and essays in the collection consider how poetry, paired with the experience of disability, speaks to the poet and impacts his or her poetic practice. The work also contains poems and an essay by Kara Dorris, an alumna of the NMSU Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing.

Black, senior prospect research coordinator for University Advancement and co-editor of the book, said disabilities are often misunderstood or ignored in society. Disabilities often affect how a person is viewed, but that does not mean the disability defines the person, Black said.

"Disability doesn't have to be seen as a tragedy," Black said. "The stories in this book are compellingly beautiful. They show how imaginative and adaptive people with disabilities are and also how, in many ways, disability can present a profound shift in perspective?a shift that is often enlarging."

Sections of the book also will be read during the 18th annual Casa de Peregrinos Hunger Benefit at 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Beverly Hills Hall in Las Cruces.

Every fall, La Sociedad para las Artes organizes a benefit reading for Casa de Peregrinos, an emergency food bank in Las Cruces that feeds thousands of hungry people each year. The event will feature live music, carnival games, a cash bar and book readings. Black; Jennifer Bartlett, co-editor of the book; and Jim Ferris, well known poet and author of "The Hospital Poems," and others, will present readings during the event.

"The benefit is a really great opportunity to come out and have fun for a good cause," Black said. "It also gives people the chance to understand different types of experiences they might not have understood before."

One of the main messages of the book is that people should not be reduced to their disabilities. The public should not be afraid to ask questions and learn more about disabilities, Black said.

"I hope reading the book will expose people to radically new perspectives on disability, a little like visiting a new country," Black said.

Tickets for the hunger benefit cost $10 at the door. Beverly Hills Hall is located at 150 Hermosa Ave. in Las Cruces.

For more information about "Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability," contact Black at 575-646-2103. For more information about the hunger benefit, contact the NMSU English Department at 575-646-3931.