Published: Nov. 7, 2014

Creating a poetic legacy

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Anita Skeen RCAH Center for Poetry office: (517) 884-1932

Poet George Ellenbogen and his late partner, Evelyn Shakir, have created the Skeen-Ellenbogen-Shakir Center for Poetry Fund Endowment for the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Center for Poetry at Michigan State University as an estate gift.

The future gift of $50,000 will generously support the work of the center. In addition, Ellenbogen has committed to supporting the center annually.

“By creating an endowment at the Center for Poetry, we are staking our faith in its continued capacity to enrich the lives of all those that participate in its activities,” Ellenbogen said. “By endowing this program in honor of our dear friend and fellow artist, Anita Skeen, we are expressing our admiration for her glorious achievements not only as a writer, but as one who has shaped lives in the classroom and in the programs she has developed.

“It is fitting that future generations of writers and readers will be able to participate in the arts within this space that bears her warmth and her genius.”

Ellenbogen first met Skeen, director of the RCAH Center for Poetry, at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an artists’ colony in Amherst, Va., that awards fellowships to writers, visual artists and musicians who live in residence.

“George has been such an activist on the part of other poets throughout his life and has always promoted poetry wherever he went,” Skeen said. “He has so much interest in different poets and different forms of poetry in different countries that his love of the international aspects of poetry and of language will help us keep in mind that there are wonderful poets outside our immediate realm of experience.”

The RCAH Center for Poetry opened fall 2007 to encourage the reading, writing and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in everyday life. The center hosts numerous events throughout the year, including workshops, readings, conversations with visiting authors and the Fall Writing Series and Spring Poetry Series.

Endowments are unique and important gifts for the university because they provide support in perpetuity. The total gift is invested and a percentage of the resulting interest becomes available each year for the work or program the donor has stipulated, while a smaller percentage of the interest is reinvested to grow the fund and safeguard against inflation. MSU’s long-term investment returns have performed ahead of peer institutions.

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