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Manhattanville Poetry Reading Features Reginald Dwayne Betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts
Reginald Dwayne Betts Photo Credit: Contributed

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Poet and essayist Reginald Dwayne Betts will read from his latest book of poems, "Bastards of the Reagan Era," Wednesday, Sept. 30 at Manhattanville College.

Betts will read beginning at 7 p.m. in the East Library at Reid Castle on the Manhattanville campus in Purchase as part of the college’s MFA in creative writing program’s fall series of readings and lectures.

Publishers Weekly praised Betts' latest book as a collection of “devastatingly beautiful” elegies “that calls out to young black men lost in the pitfalls of urban America.”

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates calls Bett’s poems “fierce and unstoppable,” as in this sample of his writing: “In the streets that grieve our silence, children die,/they fall to bullets & asthma, they fall/ into each other’s arms as mothers watch on.”

Betts, whose life’s journey has taken him from prison to Yale Law School, is a national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice. He is the author of "A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival and Coming of Age in Prison" and the poetry collection "Shahid Reads His Own Palm."

In 2012 President Barack Obama named Betts a member of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Upcoming events in the MFA series at Manhattanville include:

  • U.S Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Reyna Grande, an award-winning novelist and memoirist (both Oct. 23.
  • Joy James, one of America’s most important scholars of the prison/industrial complex; Tom Robbins, columnist and staff writer at the Village Voice and Daily News; Anderson Smith, a Manhattanville College graduate and spoken word artist, author and motivational speaker (all three Oct. 28).
  • The fall events will be capped off with readings by first year MFA students (Nov. 30).

All MFA events are free. For more information, visit .

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