(Posted October 5, 2015)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Julia Spicher Kasdorf, a native of Lewistown, Pa., will give a reading of her award-winning poetry at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Beeghly Library on the Juniata College campus.
The reading is free and open to the public.

Kasdorf's poems are typically situated in the Allegheny Mountains and surrounding areas. Themes in her work include rural economic depression, motherhood and intimate accounts of life in rural America. Her poetry -- a lyrical and often humorous blend of colloquial experience and intellectual reflection -- rejects violence and celebrates youthful innocence and morality.

Themes in her work include rural economic depression, motherhood and intimate accounts of life in rural America.


In her book "Sleeping Preacher," which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the Great Lakes College's Association Award for New Writing, Kasdorf offers a firsthand glimpse into Mennonite culture, a branch of Christianity that values peace, simplicity and community service. Though the Mennonite community is welcoming and promotes acceptance, it is often private, and Kasdorf's accounts of her childhood experiences are uncommon.

Peter Goldstein, John Downey Benedict Professor of English at Juniata College, includes Kasdorf's work in his curriculum because of its roots in her local culture. "More than ever, we need to be aware that there are many cultures in the world, and indeed many cultures in the United Strates," says Goldstein. "If we learn to understand where others come from, we are more likely to see the shaping factors in our own cultures."

Kasdorf is currently a professor of English and women's studies at Penn State University's main campus. In 2009 she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and her works have appeared in publications like The New Yorker and The Paris Review.

By Tyler Ayres

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.