Aliki BarnstoneAliki Barnstone, the current Poet Laureate of Missouri, will present a free reading on Wednesday, April 5, at 7 p.m. in Central Methodist University’s Inman Student Community Center for the public.

The reading is offered by the CMU Cultural Affairs Committee and its Student Government Association and will follow a master class held earlier in the day for Central students.

Barnstone grew up as the daughter of a father who was a writer and a mother who was an artist. When visiting Vermont during the summers, she lived near well-known poet Ruth Stone.

The children of the two families spent their days walking the fields, playing games, making up plays, drawing, painting, and writing. She published her first book of poetry, The Real Tin Flower, in 1968 when she was 12.

She studied at Brown University, where she received her bachelor and master degrees, Middlebury Language School (in Spanish), the University of California at Santa Cruz; and she earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

She has taught at numerous universities as an adult, including the Prague Summer Seminar, and was writer-in-residence at Villanova.

In 2006, Barnstone spent time in Greece as a Fulbright scholar. While there, she wrote a sequence of poems from an imaginary girl who survives the Holocaust. It was called “Eva’s Voice” and is part of her recent book of poetry Dear God, Dear Dr. Heartbreak: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2010).

Barnstone has been nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. She has recorded a collaborative CD with musician Frank Haney called Wild Wind; and she is serving as a consultant on a new documentary film and book by Dr. Norris J. Chumley, set in her hometown of Bloomington, Ind.

Barnstone is currently professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri in Columbia.