Bonnie Payne
events coordinator, 308.865.8469

Maude Barlow, best-selling author and former senior adviser on water to the United Nations General Assembly, will give the keynote address for the James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs, taking place Monday and Tuesday (March 7-8) at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

She will speak at 7:30 Monday in the Miriam Drake Theatre in the UNK Fine Arts Building. Her presentation, titled “The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water,” is free and open to the public. The theme for the 2011 conference is “Water and Survival: From the Platte to the Nile.”

Barlow, the executive member of the San Francisco-based International Forum on Globalization, is author of the international best seller “Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water.” In all, she has authored and co-authored 16 books. A Canadian author and activist, she is the national chairperson of The Council of Canadians, a citizens’ advocacy organization with members and chapters across Canada. She is also co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, which works internationally for the right to water. She also chairs the board of the Washington-based Forum on Globalization and is a councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.

Among her many awards are 10 honorary doctorates from Canadian universities for her social justice work. In addition she has received the Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award, the Right Livelihood Award for her global water justice work, the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award and is the Citation of Lifetime Achievement winner of the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards.

Her Monday evening presentation will come at the close of the opening day of presentations. Except for the keynote presentation in the Miriam Drake Theatre, conference activities will take place in the Nebraskan Student Union.Throughout the two days of the conference, authors, poets, scientists, activists, government officials and scholars from around the world will be giving presentations centered on the conference theme of water. Among the countries represented, in addition to the United States, will be Canada, Egypt, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Spain, China and Austria.

Opening the conference activities Monday at 9 a.m. in the Ponderosa Room E will be poets Matthew Shenoda, a Coptic Egyptian poet now at the California Institute of Arts, and Dr. Don Welch, emeritus Reynolds Chair of Poetry. The two will set the tone for the conference theme with Shenoda reading his poetry about the Nile and Dr. Welch reading his about the Platte River.

Shenoda has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His debut collection of poems, “Somewhere Else,” was named one of 2005’s debut books of the year by “Poets & Writers Magazine.” The book won the inaugural Hala Maksoud Award for Emerging Voice from RAWI and the 2006 American Book Award. His latest collection is “Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone.”

He is the assistant provost for Equity & Diversity and a professor in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts. He also serves as director of poetry for the planet at the Wangari Maathai Center for Economic, Educational and Environmental Design, where he is developing a curricular initiative that uses poetics as a framework to teach global sustainability issues to urban youth.

Dr. Welch is a Nebraska native and the author of 18 collections of poetry. He is well-known not only as a Nebraska poet, but also as an emeritus professor of English at UNK where he taught English and philosophy for 49 years. He is the winner of a number of national prizes in poetry, included the prestigious Neruda Prize. Many of his prize-winning poems are included in “Inklings,” which was published by Sandhills Press. Among his recent books are “Gutter Flowers” (Logan House), “When Memory Gives Dust a Face (Lewis-Clark Press) and “Travels” (Finishing Lines Press). He has a forthcoming book in 2011, “Deliberations” (Backwaters Press).

Since 1964, the University of Nebraska at Kearney/Kearney State College has sponsored the James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs to discuss issues of global importance.

For a complete schedule of World Affairs Conference events, go to:  http://www.unk.edu/worldaffairs/