Drawing parallels to VCU’s recent graduation ceremony, David Coogan celebrates a recent graduation ceremony for the residents at the Richmond City Jail participating in Open Minds, the program that brings faculty and students into the jail for courses in the liberal arts. Read article at http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/columnists-blogs/guest-columnists/article_6f5c7011-0bd7-55b1-827b-900505d9faf3.html.
Well done, Dave!
Clint McCown’s novel Haints has received the Midwest Book Award for literary fiction.
Harrison Fletcher’s book Descanso for My Father just received a 2013 Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal.
Congratulations Clint and Harrison!
This year’s prestigious Philip B. Meggs Memorial scholarship recipient Nikki Fernandes, who will receive a bachelor’s degree in English this week, found that a VCU community engagement program made her feel closer to her university. Nikki has volunteered at Church Hill Academy, a private high school for at-risk youth, and taught at the Richmond City Jail. She became involved in the latter effort through a service-learning course, Open Minds, taught by David Coogan, an associate professor in the Department of English.
Attending graduate school may be in her future, but first Nikki will take a teaching job at Church Hill Academy, matching her passion for teaching literature with her desire to help others. Through her work with Open Minds, Nikki met prisoners who have struggled after lacking guidance and opportunities when they were younger. Nikki sees a chance to prevent similar future difficulties for the kids she will teach at Church Hill.
See Tom Gresham’s full article in VCU News at http://news.vcu.edu/news/Service_Minds.
Check out the interview published by VCU News with Fitzgerald scholar Bryant Mangum about his latest book, F. Scott Fitzgerald in Context. Mangum teaches popular English department courses on Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Salinger, and The New Yorker magazine short stories, among others, and is widely recognized as one of VCU’s best teachers with awards from VCU, the Virginia State Council of Higher Education, and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. He is also the editor of Modern Library’s “The Best Early Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald” and author of “A Fortune Yet: Money in the Art of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Short Stories.”
Founding co-general editors Joshua Eckhardt (English) and Sarah Meacham (History) launched the scholarly series British Virginia on April 25th with the publication of a sermon preached to the Virginia Company of London on the same date 404 years earlier. The sermon apparently started the company’s campaign to counter public scrutiny of the colony, especially its presumptions regarding native rulers. The new British Virginia editions of the sermon likewise seem to have started digital, peer-reviewed library publishing at VCU! A link to British Virginia’s library page is up on the English department’s website. Here is a link to the British Virginia blog wp.vcu.edu/britishvirginia and Facebook page www.facebook.com/BritishVirginiaVCU.
Congratulations Josh and Sarah!
Clint McCown’s novel Haints has been named as a finalist for the Midwest Book Award in the category of literary fiction. Congratulations, Clint!
Harrison Fletcher’s book Descanso for My Father: Fragments of a Life is a finalist in the 2013 Colorado Book Awards.
Also, a lyric essay, “The Sorrowful Mysteries,” is a finalist in the 2013 Thomas J. Hrushka Memorial Nonfiction Prize sponsored by Passages North.
David Wojahn has received the Poets’ prize for his book World Tree. The Poets’ prize is awarded annually for the best book of verse published by a living American poet two years prior to the award year. Judging is done by a committee of about 20 American poets, who each nominate two books for the prize.
A reception will be held in May at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City where winners and finalists will read from their award-winning books. David shares the award this year with poet Robert Shaw.
The VCU Department of English ends its 2012-13 First Friday season with a lecture by Professor Nicholas Frankel, who will present “The Censoring of Oscar Wilde” on Friday, April 5, at 3:00pm in Hibbs 308. All First Friday events are free and open to the public.
Many of the department’s faculty attended the Modern Language Association’s Annual Meeting in Boston in January. Catherine Ingrassia presided over “Celebrity, Fame, Notoriety” and “Open Access? ECCO, EEBO, and Digital Resources,” both organized by the Division on Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century English Literature. Joshua Eckhardt presented in the latter panel. Along with Manushag Powell, Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN), Rivka Swenson organized and presided over two special sessions, “Scriblerians at Three Hundred” and “Early Women Tory Writers.” With Bernardo Piciche of VCU’s School of World Studies, Marcel Cornis-Pope presided over “Alternate Voices of the Mediterranean,” a program organized by the Division on Comparative Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature.
Les Harrison, associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been awarded a 2012-13 Fulbright Scholars Grant. As a Fulbright Scholar, Les will teach one graduate and one undergraduate course in American Literature at Ghent University in Belgium during the Spring 2013 semester. The Fulbright Program is an international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that awards grants to students and scholars based upon academic achievement and leadership potential. Recipients study or teach abroad, exchanging ideas and researching solutions to international concerns with scholars in other countries.
February 7 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. His birth was celebrated around the world, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch wnated to do its part to recognize Dickens’ life and writings. They’ve done so with an extended piece, titled ”The Dickensian Aspect Still,” in the Sunday, February 18th edition, written by the English department’s own David Latané.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Southern Film Festival will show the film Shenandoah, featuring Jimmy Stewart and set in Virginia during the Civil War, on Saturday, February 25, at 1pm at the Museum of Fine Arts. A discussion following the showing will be moderated by VCU English department’s Richard Fine, who recently developed VCU’s course “Reading Film,” and will include University of Richmond’s President Ed Ayers.
Under the guidance of Professor David Coogan, Alpha Rho, the VCU chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, began a service project with Linwood Holton Elementary School in October. To date, Alpha Rho members have logged in over 60 hours, helping more than 100 students in five classrooms with their reading and writing skills, and continue to visit the school each week. According to VCU undergraduate and Sigma Tau member Michelle Palmer, the chapter hopes to assist in a local elementary school each semester.
Reviewers of David Wojahn’s eighth volume of poetry, World Tree (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), have been quite taken with the book, claiming that this is David’s most ambitious collection yet. A notice of the book accompanied the appearance of a new poem, “In the Attic,” when it was highlighted in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In the CHE piece, poet Lisa Russ Spaar wrote, “In the nearly 30 years since Richard Hugo selected his first book, Icehouse Lights, for the Yale Younger Poets prize in 1982, David Wojahn has contributed to American arts and letters a personally and politically intrepid body of ever-evolving poems.” “Ever-evolving” strikes the right chord for this collection. The book’s thoughtfully-designed cover reproduces Darwin’s first diagram of an evolutionary tree (1837). Prior to the CHE article, our own Blackbird presented a special edition of “Ochre.” The Blackbird version included several new features along with the images that were paired with the 25 poems in the original print edition.
This collection challenges esthetically and intellectually (a section at the back is devoted to annotations for the poems, explaining sources and references!). The poem that is most personally poignant and evocative, and maybe David will himself agree, is “Another Epistle to Frank O’Hara.” It honors Frank O’Hara’s 1964 elegy on the death of Billie Holiday in 1959, “The Day Lady Died.” O’Hara’s poem notes the muggy summer afternoon when he saw the newspaper headline on a street corner in New York. Like O’Hara’s work and like Philip Levine’s, who also admires O’Hara’s work and has written on this same O’Hara poem, David’s work might be abstract but is not in the clouds. It’s grounded in time and place. David’s epistle poem is “another” letter to O’Hara–not the first one David has written to his muse and spiritual kinsman. And surely not the last.
Wonderful, David. Congratulations.
Chair, Department of English