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A Gathering of Voices: The Writings of Sister Maura and Her Students

October 4, 2011

Acclaimed poet and author Elizabeth Spires joins Notre Dame of Maryland University for a tribute to Maura Eichner, SSND, poet and inspirational teacher, at an afternoon reception and reading on Sunday, October 23 from 2 to 5 p.m. in Fourier Hall Library.

A Gathering of Voices celebrates the release “After Silence, a new selection of poems previously published by Sister Maura, and features an exhibit highlighting fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, essays and other literary works published by many of her former students.

Admission is free, but registration is requested. Guests can register and pre-order “After Silence,” and books will also be available for purchase at the October 23 event.

Elizabeth Spires’ poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, The New Criterion, The Paris Review, and in many other literary magazines and anthologies. She is the recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two Ohioana Book Awards, and the Maryland Author Award from the Maryland Library Association. A resident of Baltimore, Ms. Spires is married to fiction writer Madison Smartt Bell. She currently teaches creative writing at Goucher College and at Johns Hopkins.

Sister Maura shared her love of words with students at Notre Dame for 50 years. During her life, more than 350 of Sister Maura’s poems were published in literary magazines, journals and newspapers including America, The New York Times, Yale Review and Commonweal; and in ten collections, including “Initiate the Heart” (1946), “The Word is Love” (1958); “Walking on Water” (1972), “What We Women Know” (1980) and “Hope is a Blind Bard” (1989). Among her numerous awards was the prestigious Theodore Hesburgh Award for Contribution to Higher Education in 1986.

An alumna of Notre Dame’s class of 1941, Sister Maura died in 2009,at the age of 94. In her honor, Notre Dame established the Sister Maura Eichner Endowed Chair in English. Over the years, Sister Maura’s students won many awards in national writing contests sponsored by The Atlantic Monthly, Lyric and other magazines. In the 21 years of Atlantic’s student-writing contests, Sister Maura’s students won 297 awards, including nine first-place honors. 

Notre Dame of Maryland University, founded as a Catholic liberal arts college in 1895 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, engages students as confident, capable learners and leaders, thriving in the vibrant, personal community of its distinguished Women’s College, College of Adult Undergraduate Studies and College of Graduate Studies. Rich in tradition, Notre Dame provides students with opportunities in research, study abroad and service to the global community. Notre Dame’s graduates change lives—in their careers, communities and families. Visit www.ndm.edu.