Photo of Kiki Petrosino

Poet Kiki Petrosino reading from White Blood: a Lyric of Virginia

2022 Florie Gale Arons Poetry Forum: An Evening with Kiki Petrosino By Laura Wolford

Newcomb Institute was thrilled to host Kiki Petrosino as the featured poet for the 2022 Florie Gale Arons Poetry Program. The program was established by the daughters of Florie Gale Arons (NC ’50) in 1999 in honor of their mother’s 70th birthday.

Kiki Petrosino is the author of several books of poetry, including White Blood: a Lyric of Virginia (2020) and, Bright: a Lyric Memoir (2022). Petrosino holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Currently, she directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia, where she is a Professor of Poetry. Petrosino is the recipient of a MacDowell Artist Residency, a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the UNT Rilke Prize, and the Spalding Prize, among other honors.

During her campus visit last fall, Petrosino conducted a creative writing workshop, visited classes, and gave a public reading from Bright.

“I first encountered the work of Kiki Petrosino last fall in Professor Kohler’s course on contemporary U.S. poetry,” remarked Tulane senior and Newcomb Scholar Khira Hickbottom (SLA ’23) during her introduction of Petrosino at the reading. “I devoured White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia in one sitting. It was electric and slippery and intimate. I spent the days leading up to this event reading and re-reading all over again, reminding myself of Petrosino’s command of her audience–how, in many ways, attention to her music precedes understanding, creating a body of work that is compelling and utterly disarming.”

Both Petrosino and her time as the 2022 Arons poet will be remembered for her warmth, brilliance in wordsmithing, and her impeccable ability to merge the realms of artistic expression, social awareness and commentary into poetry that compels all who experience her work to expand their worldview.