Hollins Author Is Finalist for Library of Va. Literary Award

Hollins University Professor of English Cathryn Hankla is among the nine authors who are finalists for the 20th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards.

The Library of Virginia’s annual literary awards recognize the best books published the previous year by Virginia authors or on a Virginia theme. The winners in each of the three categories (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) receive a monetary prize of $2,500.  The finalists are chosen by an independent panel of judges from hundreds of books nominated for the awards.

Hankla is one of three finalists in the poetry category for Great Bear, published by Groundhog Poetry Press.

The winner in each category will be announced at a gala celebration on Saturday, October 14, at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

 


Hollins Professor’s Novel Wins Kafka Prize

As Close to Us as Breathing, a novel by Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner, has captured the 2017 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.

Established in 1976 and presented by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and the Department of English at the University of Rochester, the Kafka Prize is given annually to a woman who is a U.S. citizen and has written the best book-length work of prose fiction, be it a novel, short story, or experimental writing.  Previous winners include such distinguished authors as Toni Morrison, Ursula Le Guin, and Anne Tyler.

According to the Kafka Prize webpage, the award honors its namesake, “a young editor who was killed in a car accident just as her career was beginning. Those who knew her believed she would do much to further the causes of literature and women. Her family, friends, and professional associates created the endowment from which the prize is bestowed, in memory of Janet Heidinger Kafka and the literary standards and personal ideals for which she stood.”

Poliner will participate in a reading, award ceremony, and book signing at the University of Rochester on November 2.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy. The novel is “vivid, complex, and beautifully written,” said Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World. “[It] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

The Kafka Prize is the latest of several honors the novel has received. In May, the book was named a finalist for the 2017 Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award. Last November, As Close to Us as Breathing was selected as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Editors’ Picks for 2016 and an Amazon Best Book for March of that year.

 

Stay up-to-date on university news. Sign up for the bi-monthly Hollins News email.


Prof’s New Poetry Collection “A Book of Seeking, Beseeching”

Hollins University Professor of English Cathryn Hankla‘s new volume of poetry may be titled Galaxies, but don’t mistake it for an exploration of astronomy.

Mercer University Press, the publisher, instead describes it as “a book of seeking and beseeching. Galaxies forms a collective of connected but disparate things. Each galaxy grouping constitutes a gravitational system of concern, finding its own music and approach to what a poem can be. Together the poems create a spiritual pilgrimage, a sequence sending up an alarm for the earth, inviting the reader to walk a path to the heart’s center.”

Galaxies has already received considerable praise. Author Alice Fulton called it a “quietly mind-blowing book,” while poet and novelist Carol Moldaw said the collection consisted of “poems of lyric capaciousness, thoughtful, intricate, and enticing.”

Hankla will be discussing and reading from Galaxies during her upcoming book tour:

Tuesday, August 8
Bookworks, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, August 9
Collected Works, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 12
Tattered Cover, Denver, Colorado, 2 p.m.

Tuesday, August 15
Colorado Mountain College, Leadville, Colorado, noon

Sunday, September 3
Malaprops, Asheville, North Carolina, 3 p.m.

Friday – Sunday, October 13 – 15
Southern Festival of the Book, Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, November 9
Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia, 7 p.m.

Born in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, Hankla teaches in the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins and serves as the poetry editor of The Hollins Critic. She has published 12 previous books of fiction and poetry, including Fortune Teller Miracle Fish and Great Bear.

 


Hollins Professor’s New Novel Garners Considerable Attention

The author of one of the country’s most-talked-about new novels also happens to be a member of the Hollins University faculty.

Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Poliner’s As Close to Us as Breathing (Lee Boudreaux Books) has been named an Amazon Best Book for March 2016 and is one of four new releases this month that W magazine calls “must reads.”  Reviews have also been published or are forthcoming in The New York Times as well on NPR.org and in People, Good Housekeeping, and Washingtonian magazines.

As Close to Us as Breathing is the story of a close-knit Jewish family that strives to cope following a tragedy that occurs while summering at the Connecticut shore in 1948. Publishers Weekly calls the book “an exquisitely written investigation of grief and atonement, and an elegy for a Jewish family bound together by tradition and tribe.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones says, “Vivid, complex, and beautifully written, [it] brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. This moving story of the way one unforgettable family struggles with love and loss shows an uncommon depth of human understanding. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again.”

In conjunction with the novel’s publication, Poliner will be appearing at the following bookstores during March and April:

Tuesday, March 15: Newtonville Books, Newton, MA, 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 17: RJ Julia Bookstore, Madison, CT, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 19: Politics & Prose, Washington, DC, 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 20: Book Court, Brooklyn, NY, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, March 22: Longfellow Books, Portland, ME, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 9: Op. Cit Books, Taos, NM


Hollins Writers Make National Book Awards Shortlists

Two Hollins authors are among the twenty finalists for one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, the National Book Awards.

Five finalists each in the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature categories were announced on October 14.

Karen E. Bender, who joined the Hollins faculty this fall as the university’s Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing, is a first-time finalist in the Fiction category for her short-story collection, Refund. She is the author of the novels Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms, and her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and other magazines. She has previously won two Pushcart Prizes.

“The tales told in Karen Bender’s Refund, a collection of stories that centers on money and family, are exquisitely composed portraits of modern life, and chances are you will encounter characters that remind you a little or a lot of yourself,” said the Chicago Tribune. “That’s the brilliance of Bender’s storytelling….[her] ability to transform observations of life into uncomfortably realistic stories cannot be denied.” 

Hollins alumna and world-renowned photographer Sally Mann is on the shortlist in the Nonfiction category for her memoir, Hold Still. She has previously received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her photographs are held by major institutions internationally.

The New York Times called Hold Still “uncommonly beautiful” while The Atlantic described the bestseller as “gorgeously written and convincing.”

Mann’s many books include Second Sight (1983), At Twelve (1988), Immediate Family (1992), Still Time (1994), What Remains (2003), Deep South (2005), Proud Flesh (2009), and The Flesh and the Spirit (2010).

The National Book Awards will honor this year’s winners at a ceremony in New York City on November 18. Each recipient will be given a bronze sculpture and a $10,000 cash prize.

 


Hollins Appoints Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing

brownHollins University has named author and professor Carrie Brown as distinguished visiting professor of creative writing. She will join the Hollins faculty in August.

Brown is the author of five novels, including The Rope Walk (Pantheon Books, 2007), Confinement (Algonquin Books, 2004), The Hatbox Baby (Algonquin, 2000), Lamb in Love (Algonquin, 1999), and Rose’s Garden (Algonquin, 1998), and a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle (Algonquin, 2002). Her short fiction has appeared in such journals as One Story, Glimmer Train, The Georgia Review, and The Oxford American, and she regularly reviews fiction for major newspapers. Her work has been translated into several languages, and she has read at literary festivals, libraries, bookstores, and colleges and universities across the country.

Brown is a two-time winner of the Library of Virginia Book Award and a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. In 2009, The Rope Walk was selected by the Iowa Public Library as the “All Iowa Reads” book and as the “Lynchburg, Virginia Reads” book by the Lynchburg Public Library.

Brown earned a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Virginia and is currently associate professor of English and Margaret Banister Writer-in-Residence at Sweet Briar College, where she teaches creative writing courses in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She also serves as coordinator of international programs for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a year-round residential working retreat center for visual artists, writers, and composers.

Brown succeeds David Huddle, who has served as distinguished visiting professor of creative writing at Hollins since 2009. The professorship is a one-year, full-time, renewable position.


Will Schutt M.F.A. ’09 Wins Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition

schuttPoet Will Schutt, who received his MFA in creative writing from Hollins University in 2009, has been named a winner in the 2012 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, the longest-running poetry prize in the United States.

The competition’s judge, prize-winning and critically acclaimed poet Carl Phillips, chose Schutt’s manuscript, Westerly, for the award. Yale University Press will publish Westerly in April 2013.

Schutt’s poems and translations appear in Agni, FIELD, Harvard Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He has also received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Stadler Center for Poetry, and the James Merrill House. He holds a BA from Oberlin College and resides in Wainscott, New York.

Awarded since 1919, the Yale Series of Younger Poets celebrates the most prominent new American poets by bringing the work of these artists to the attention of the larger public. Earlier winners of the prize include Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, and Robert Hass.

 


R. H. W. Dillard, Wilson Museum Honored by Arts Council of the Blue Ridge

dillardProfessor of English R.H.W. Dillard (pictured) and the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University are among this year’s winners of the Perry F. Kendig Award for Outstanding Support of the Arts, presented by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge.

Dillard received the Kendig Award for Outstanding Literary Artist. He has taught at Hollins since 1964 and was named Virginia Professor of the Year in 1987. Other accolades include the O.B. Hardison, Jr., Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library; the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature; and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Fellowship of Southern Writers (which also presented him with the Hanes Prize for Poetry) and the Virginia Writers Club.  He is the author of 14 books — seven books of poems, two novels, one book of shorter fiction, two critical monographs, and two translations of classical dramas.

The Arts Council honored the Wilson Museum with the Kendig Award for Outstanding Arts & Cultural Organization. Located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the museum is a premier arts destination in the Roanoke Valley featuring the work of internationally renowned artists, emerging figures, and regional names. It features three interconnected galleries totaling approximately 4,000 square feet of exhibition space. Through the generosity of a grant from Roanoke County, the museum houses a dedicated permanent Collection and Educational Resource Center, which is available to students, teachers, and other patrons who are interested in furthering their study of art in the museum’s permanent collection. It also functions as a small educational center for groups and classes, providing a forum for discussion, workshops, and projects based on exhibitions.

Named for the late Roanoke Valley arts patron and a former president of Roanoke College, the Perry F. Kendig Award was established in 1985 to recognize examples of support, involvement, accomplishment in the arts, and to inform the community about significant contributions to the arts in the region. The awards are chosen by a committee of community volunteers based on nominations from the general public. A reception and award ceremony will be held at the Taubman Museum of Art in May.


Hollins Graduate Natasha Trethewey Named U.S. Poet Laureate

tretheweyHollins University alumna and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey was named Poet Laureate for 2012-13 by the Library of Congress on Thursday.

Trethewey, the daughter of Hollins English professor Eric Trethewey, is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta and served as the 2012 Louis D. Rubin Writer-in-Residence at Hollins. The Hollins Theatre staged an  adaptation of her book of poems, “Bellocq’s Ophelia,”earlier this year.

Trethewey is a native of Gulfport, MS and earned her Master of Arts degree in English and creative writing from Hollins in 1991. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007 for her collection, “Native Guard,” which pays tribute to African American soldiers who were stationed near the city during the Civil War. She has garnered numerous other prestigious writing awards and was named Mississippi’s Poet Laureate in January, a four-year appointment she will continue to hold.

Trethewey, the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of her work on Thursday, September 13.

In announcing the appointment, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, said, “Natasha Trethewey is an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Her poems dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.”

Trethewey succeeds Philip Levine as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position including W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.

She is the author of three poetry collections, including “Native Guard,” (2006), winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002); and “Domestic Work” (2000). Her newest collection of poems, “Thrall,” is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Trethewey is the author of a nonfiction book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010).

The Poet Laureate is selected for a one-year term by the Librarian of Congress. The choice is based on poetic merit alone and has included a wide variety of poetic styles.

Photo by Jon Rou