Interview with Clint McCown


Check out the interview published by VCU News with MFA Faculty fiction writer, Clint McCown, about his latest novel, Haints.

The circumstances of the novel are also the circumstances of my birth. A real-life tornado destroyed my hometown of Fayetteville, Tennessee on leap day, 1952, one week before I was born. Miraculously, only one person was killed . . .

Clint McCown

Interview with Katherine Bassard

Transforming Scripture: An Interview with Katherine Clay Bassard is now available as streaming audio at the Things Not Seen website.  Things Not Seen: Conversations about Faith and Culture airs on KWAM 990 am Memphis.

The following description of the interview comes from the program’s website

Katherine Clay Bassard appreciates the interpretive opportunities that come from reading the Bible when the pieces don’t quite fit together into a smooth narrative.  ”After quite a few years of really studying the Bible and of living with the Bible, as a book, I have come to understand that there are both egalitarian strains in the Bible, and there are more hierarchical power dynamics, and they are laid, in some senses, side by side” .  . .

Bassard explores these frictions of reading in the history of African American interpretations of the Bible.  Both in the Christianity of ante-bellum slaves, and especially in the growing interpretive voice of African American women writers, these power dynamics of hierarchy and liberation have proved a fertile soil for deep and fruitful theological reflection.

VCU Professor Kathy Bassard Broadcast on “With Good Reason”

Kathy BassardJust in the nick of time, I’ve learned that Kathy Bassard’s radio broadcast on “With Good Reason” will air

Saturday, Feb 11 on WCVE 88.9 FM at 4:30 p.m. &
Sunday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 13 at 12:30 a.m. on WAMU 88.5 FM. 

Kathy will talk about her essay in The King James Bible after 400 Years (Cambridge UP, 2010).

People can also listen online at:

Good going, Kathy–  Congratulations. We’ll tune in.

Terry Oggel
Chair, VCU Department of English

Blackbird in Poetry Daily

Blackbird was the featured journal in Poetry Daily on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011.

The featured poem was Patty Crane’s translation of Nobel Prize receipient Thomas Tranströmer’s “Som Att Vara Barn” (“Like Being a Child”). This poem, part of Tranströmer’s manuscript Sorgegondolen (Sorrow Gondola) published in Blacbkird v10n1, also is available at Poetry Daily’s archive in Swedish and English.

You’ll find Crane’s entire translation of Sorrow Gondola and the entire manuscript in Swedish in Blackbird v10n1.

Congratulations to Nobel Prize Recipient Tomas Tranströmer

Tomas TranströmerBlackbird congratulates Tomas Tranströmer, the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.

As poet Jean Valentine notes in her “Letter to Tomas Tranströmer” (Blackbird v10n1)

your poems are receptive, tuned in certainly to the political and historical life grinding and haunting around us, but without an agenda. Motherly and fatherly: ‘Come in, let’s listen together.’ Your voice is both friendly and vulnerable. Nonviolent, holding no one off. Passionate, like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, you are a force for openness. Your silences are like silences in music, like negative space—time notation, notation of depth.

Tomas Tranströmer is the author of nineteen collections of poetry in his native country of Sweden and is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading poets. Patty Crane’s new translation of his work, Sorgegondolen (Sorrow Gondola), appears in the v10n1 issue of Blackbird.


Blackbird volume 10, number 1

Blackbird 10th Anniversary Logo
Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts announces its new Spring 2011 issue, v10n1, featuring:
  • A new translation and the original versions of Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer’s 1996 book Sorrow Gondola, with an introductory essay by David Wojahn, a letter to Tranströmer by Jean Valentine, audio readings of three of the poems in Swedish, and video of Franz Liszt’s “Lugubre Gondola No. 2” that inspired the poem by the same title
  • Audio of Victor Lodato, winner of the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, Kathleen Graber, Jean Valentine, Kate Greenstreet, Jake Adam York, Mathias Svalina, and Allison Titus
  • Poetry by Norman Dubie, Dave Smith, Jennifer Chang, Victoria Chang, Yu Shibuya, Brittany Cavallaro, Jenny Johnson, Eve Jones, and more
  • Fiction by Kelly Cherry, Steve Yarbrough, Victor Lodato, Adrian Dorris, Julie Hensley, Darrin Doyle, Aurelie Sheehan, and Chris Leo
  • Reviews of Joshua Poteat, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Keith Montesano, and Sandra Beasley
  • In gallery, plays by Victor Lodato and Yasmine Rana, an audio essay by Jeff Porter, a video essay by Nick Twemlow and Robyn Schiff, and the U.S. Federal Civil Defense Administration’s 1951 “Duck and Cover”
You may access the issue by visiting
or directly to the foreword page (bypassing the 10th anniversary logo)

Ross Losapio Awarded Blackbird Editorship 2011-2012

MFA student Ross Losapio was named the 2011-2012 associate editor for Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts having previously served two semesters interning as  a copyeditor. Losapio is the tenth individual named to this position; he will receive and manage all submissions, act as primary contact to contributors, and work with other editors to coordinate content and production tasks, for Blackbird v10n2 and v11n1.

Faculty Member David Coogan’s The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen Scholars & Civic Engagement

coogan_public_work_rhetoric.jpg The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen-Scholars and Civic Engagement (University of South Carolina Press, 2010), edited by James M. Ackerman and VCU Department of English faculty member David Coogan, has had an immediate influence on scholar-citizens. At the University of Pittsburgh, students have taken the book’s message to heart and, focusing on the sub-title, they have started an initiative to create civic engagement opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students throughout the university.
Coogan’s book emphasizes the role of rhetorical practices in civic and social environments. Its eighteen essays, one of them written by Coogan on Sophists for Social Change, challenge some of the traditional views about rhetoric in academia and public life.

MATX Student Lee Bloxom’s Eastern Shore Stories featured by VA Foundation for the Humanities

bloxom_l_plow.jpgIt was about two years ago that we learned that MATX student Lee Bloxom had won a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant for her work on oral narratives from Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Now she has sent us a link to VFH’s notice of her project, Eastern Shore Stories, with clips and photos. Currently, VFH is featuring Lee’s grant project on its website.

MFA Alum Project—Longs Chapel Slide Show—for VA’s Department of Historic Resources

longs_chapel.jpgRandy Jones (MFA poetry, 1989) recently completed a slide show featured during Black History Month for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The show presents text and images relating the history of a “reconstruction-era chapel, built after the Civil War in rural Rockingham County” in the community known as Old Athens and later Zenda, Virginia.
In addition to being this show’s creator, Randy is also the contact person for the Virginia Department of Historical Resources for anyone interested in collaborating with DHR on future “Historic Virginia, Site of the Month” slide shows.
More information and Randy Jones’ contact information can be found on the “Sources slide” at the end of the Longs Chapel slide show.

Slide show of Longs Chapel