Capitol Bureau
6:08 am
Mon March 3, 2008

Spitzer Names State Author and Poet Laureate

Albany, New York – Governor Eliot Spitzer and his wife Silda Wahl Spitzer named the official State Author and Poet Laureate at a ceremony at the state Capitol Monday. Irish Catholic novelist Mary Gordon will serve as the State Author, Jean Valentine was named Poet Laureate.

Mary Gordon is known for her writings on growing up Irish-Catholic. Her works include the novels Final Payments, and In the Company of Women. She's also written a memoir on her father entitled The Shadow Man. Gordon told those at the ceremony that she's a New Yorker through and through, raised in Queens, attending college at Barnard and Syracuse University, and writing her novels in New Paltz.

"Everything important that has happened to me has happened in New York" Gordon said.

The State Author award is named after Edith Wharton, whom Gordon credits with legitimizing women writers. The award comes as Edith Wharton's restored summer home in nearby Western Massachusetts is in danger of foreclosure.

Governor Eliot Spitzer, who presented the honor, admitted that he hasn't read Gordon's novels- yet.

"I will read them, I promise," said Spitzer, who joked that he would be likely soon be "quizzed by some mean spirited member of the media" about the books.

Governor Spitzer's wife, Silda, who was an English Major in college, and who has read Mary Gordon, presented the award for state poet laureate to Jean Valentine.

Valentine, who actually taught Gordon poetry writing at Barnard, said she was "overwhelmed" by the honor.

The awards carry a small stipend. Both Gordon and Valentine will serve in their roles until 2010.