Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prof. Evelyn Schreiber Awarded Toni Morrison Society Book Prize

Prof. Schreiber receives the Toni Morrison Society Book Prize.

Prof. Evelyn Schreiber's book Race, Trauma, and Home in the Novels of Toni Morrison (Louisiana University Press, 2011) was awarded the 2010-2012 Toni Morrison Society Book Prize, given every other year for the best single-authored book on Morrison's work. The award was announced at the African American Literature and Culture Society Reception at the American Literature Association conference in San Francisco on May 25.
The award was presented by Prof. Carolyn Denard, founder and chair of the board of directors of the Toni Morrison Society. In her remarks, Prof. Denard noted that Race, Trauma, and Home "shows through a deeply informed understanding of psychological and neurobiological analyses how the very real and traumatic wounds of racism can affect the mind and the body for generations." 
The society chose Prof. Schreiber's book "because of its willingness to take seriously the humiliating wounds of racial trauma and their effects on the minds and the bodies of African Americans, because of its groundbreaking use of neurobiological and psychoanalytical theories of analysis to provide clear and convincing evidence of the resonance of Morrison’s characterizations of individuals traumatized by racism, and because of its insightful understanding of the often unrecognized reality of the agency involved in the creation--through memory and/or re-telling--of spaces of healing and self-realization."
Congratulations to Evelyn!  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Books by GW English Alumni

This week saw news about three new (or forthcoming) books by alumni of the GW English department. 

Witchita (Europa Editions), the debut novel by GW alumnus Thad Ziolkowski, a professor and Writing Center coordinator at the Pratt Institute, received a warm review in Sunday's New York Times Book Review. "Whereas you might begin the book drawn in by its sense of humor," writes reviewer Natalie Bakopoulos, "its ending will unhinge you." Add this to your summer reading list!

Teaching Law and Literature, co-edited by GW Ph.D. Cathrine O. Frank, was the featured title for April 2012 of the Modern Language Association, which published the book in its "Options for Teaching" series. The book is "a resource of teachers" interested in the field of law and literature, including teachers in law schools as well as liberal arts. 

Poet Angela Jackson is one of the artists at the center of Carmen Phelps' new work.

 Finally, we look forward to the publication, in January 2013, of GW Ph.D. Carmen Phelps's study Visionary Women Writers of Chicago's Black Arts Movement (University Press of Mississippi). An outgrowth of her dissertation, Phelps's book examines the work of several women artists active in the Black Arts Movement in Chicago. Dr. Phelps is associate professor of African American literature and director of graduate studies in English at the University of Toledo.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jody Bolz to Read at MLK Public Library Tuesday

Former GW creative writer professor Jodi Bolz.

UPDATE 5/22/12 at 11:48 a.m.:  Tonight's reading by Jodi Bolz is at 6:30 p.m.

Jodi Bolz, who taught in our creative writing program for more than 20 years, will be reading from her work at the Martin Luther King Jr. branch of the DC Public Library Tuesday, May 22 at 6 p.m. The reading will take place in the library's Literature Reading Room.

Jodi Bolz is author of, most recently, the collection A Lesson in Narrative Time (Gihon Books, 2004). Her poems have appeared widely in anthologies and literary journals, including The American Scholar, Ploughshares, and Poetry East. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award. With E. Ethelbert Miller, she serves as co-editor of Poet Lore, America's oldest poetry magazine.

You can read Jodi's poem "Shadow of the Family" here and "Mutanbi Street" here.

In recognition of the contributions of Jewish Americans to literature, poet Jody Bolz will read her work. Jody Bolz is the author, most recently, of A Lesson in Narrative Time and editor of Poet Lore, America's oldest poetry magazine. Her poems have appeared widely in literary journals and in such anthologies as Her Face in the Mirror: Jewish Women on Mothers and Daughters.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mary Ellen Dingley Wins GW Academy of American Poets College Prize

Senior Mary Ellen Dingley won this year's AAP Prize.
This year's Academy of American Poets College Prize at GW has been awarded to Mary Ellen Dingley. Founded in 1934, the Academy supports poets in all stages of their careers and works to foster an appreciation of contemporary poetry. The judges--Profs. Jane Shore, Mary-Sherman Willis, and David McAleavey--awarded Dingley the prize based on a set of poems, which they called "strong and interesting." 

Here's what Mary Ellen has to say about her poem "To Hold Failure in Your Hands," which appears below:
I, like most seniors, have had a stressful (though exciting!) senior year. I was at a point in my semester where I felt very discouraged and unable to keep the myriad of small tasks together. I was thinking about this feeling, this particular feeling of failure - not the great failure of flunking out of school, or losing a war, or not getting important legislation passed, or destroying a small city, or whatever else people fail at. In general, as a graduating senior, I appear pretty successful, but I felt hounded by small failures: forgetting to return that phone call, procrastinating far too long on my paper, sleeping through meetings, etc. The image of a creepy, faceless puppy appeared in my head.  Puppies need a lot of attention, they follow you around and are constantly underfoot, like my apparent lack of "getting it together" that had struck me, tripping up my plans, nearly tangible. I liked the juxtaposition of a puppy, usually considered a ball of love and cuteness, and failure. It allowed me to write about what is usually a heavy topic in a more light-hearted manner. 

I used to have a cat that would sit on my head every time I tried to sleep. If failure was a pet, it would be act like that - even when you try to forget it all and go to bed, it sits on your face. We all have those days, or weeks, or months. Luckily, I do believe that one can move past them. Perhaps I will write a poem about that, and maybe use a sloth, because they get stuff done, although at a very slow pace. I don't think sloths have ever sat on anyone's head.
And here is her lovely poem:

To Hold Failure in Your Hands

It is round and warm and soft,
covered in thick, black hair
like a Labrador puppy.
It whimpers.
Maybe it showed up in the mail
or fell into your lap, suddenly,
after long hours and longer words
reconfigure and re-allocate,
your resources
are thin
and here it is, the quivering ball
of fur, strangely heavy,
sitting in your slippers
and tripping you in the hall.
It has no face.
Yet it is still
and no matter what you do
it will not stop.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Candy": A Poem by Senior Jennifer Nguyen

Jennifer Nguyen is the winner of this year's Student Poetry Contest

Each year, the English department awards a variety of student prizes for achievement in creative writing. This year, senior Jennifer Nguyen is the winner of the Student Poetry Contest for her piece "Candy." The judges were Profs. Jane Shore, Mary-Sherman Willis, and David McAleavey.

Here's what Jennifer writes about her prize-winning poem:

I wrote Candy while taking my first poetry workshop (as a senior) in Jane Shore's class. [Poet] Patrick Donnelly guest lectured and presented The Illiterate, by William Meredith, as one of the first poems that had profoundly moved him. He then presented us with other poems which imitated The Illiterate, utilizing the skeleton of the poem as a vehicle of discourse. Patrick then challenged us to write our own version---Candy is mine. To me, it is a poem about desire and bad habits; it is about growing up while refusing to let go of that angry, child-like sense of entitlement---irrational, unreasonable and haughty. Ultimately, it celebrates the people who choose to love us anyway.

Here is a link for Meredith's poem, and here is Jennifer's work:

after William Meredith

Touched by your goodness, I am like
a tantrum in the candy aisle, where a dozen eyes
are begging the mother to surrender.
And you might think by this I mean I’m spoiled—
that I’m used to getting what I want. Truth is,
I have never felt so ashamed, and I only wish
my stomping feet would shake the ground
so you can know what it feels like to be moved.
Between hiccups and ugly, hot, banshee tears
I am choking on my orphaned fury—
What would you call that feeling when
you cannot hold your breath long enough to die?