Poet Mary Karr to speak at SU, SUNY-ESF 2015 commencement

Mary Karr, an award-winning poet and memoirist, will deliver the commencement address for the SU and SUNY-ESF commencement May 10.

University officials announced Friday that award-winning poet and memoirist Mary Karr will speak at the 2015 commencement ceremony on May 10.

Karr, the Jesse Truesdell Peck professor of Literature in the SU College of Arts and Sciences, will give the address at the joint SU and SUNY-ESF 161st ceremony in the Carrier Dome. She will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Her memoirs “Cherry,” “The Liars’ club,” and “Lit” made The New York Times’ bestsellers list. She also has several published volumes of poetry, including “Sinners Welcome” and “Viper Rum.”

SU Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a university statement that the school is fortunate to have Karr, especially because of her ties to SU.

“It is rare for someone to attain prominence in so many genres: in poetry, literary criticism, memoirs, essays, screen writing and song writing,” Syverud said. “It is fitting that our students will experience someone with such a creative range just as they are embarking on the next phase of their lives.”

While teaching at SU, Karr has presented a series of poetry analyses through her YouTube channel and show, “Poetry Fix.”

Karr has previously spoken at schools such as Harvard University, Oxford University and Brown University. She also has discussed the life works of fellow accomplished writers, such as writer David Foster Wallace and Zbigniew Herbert.

Before teaching at SU, Karr edited the weekly poetry column “Poet’s Choice” at The Washington Post. She has published pieces in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Poetry and Parnassus.

The announcement came after nearly a months delay. Previous commencement speakers include New Yorker editor David Remnick, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and current Vice President Joe Biden.

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