Speaker to Share How He Used Poetry to Heal Children
Nov. 9, 2017
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— As part of his national tour, award-winning poet Spencer Reece
will discuss his own poetry as well as the poetry of the girls from Our Little Roses,
an orphanage in Honduras where Reece worked as a poetry workshop leader. The reading
will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. at the Merwin Gallery of the Ames School
of Art (6 Ames Plaza West, Bloomington).
A poet and Episcopal priest in Madrid, Spain, Reece earned a Fulbright Scholarship
in 2012 to teach poetry to children at Our Little Roses, an orphanage in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Both a home and school, Our Little Roses
was founded in 1988 for abused and abandoned girls in San Pedro Sula, a city ranked
second for the world’s highest per capita murder rate.
For one year, Reece used poetry to help girls in the orphanage overcome abuse, violence
and neglect. The book, Counting Time Like People Count Stars, includes works by 24 of the children. Published by Northwestern University Press,
the book will be available to purchase at the film screening and poetry reading. Directed
by Brad Coley with James Franco as executive producer, the film that will be presented
at the screening chronicles the experiences of the girls as they write their life
The author of The Clerk’s Tale and The Road to Emmaus, Reece is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National
Endowment for the Arts, and a Witter Bynner fellowship from the Library of Congress.
He has received multiple awards including the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship
and a Whiting Writers’ Award. After graduating from Wesleyan University with a bachelor
of arts degree, Reece earned his master of arts at the University of York, a master
of theological studies at Harvard Divinity School, and a master of divinity at Yale
Chaepter Negro '19, a member of Illinois Wesleyan’s Interfaith, a Registered Student Organization dedicated to fostering religious diversity, said
that Reece’s work exemplifies Interfaith’s mission.
“From an interfaith perspective, it’s important that Reece is crossing divides,” Negro
said. “Being an Episcopal priest, that is not a huge part of what he’s doing – a lot
of it just comes down to human rights work. It shows that regardless of what specific
religion or specific worldview you have, you’re still willing to meet other people
in the middle to help other people and to find common ground.”
Negro said that people like Reece show the importance in combining faith with the
humanities and the arts to foster change.
“The fact that Reece himself went to one of the most dangerous places in Central America
to work with these girls and teach them poetry shows that he obviously has some type
of belief in the power of how art can change people and help them escape from an otherwise
awful situation,” Negro said.
Reece’s visit is sponsored by the International Studies Program, the Chaplain’s Office,
the Hispanic Studies Department, and the English Department.