Chestertown, MD, September 3, 2004 — Washington College's O'Neill Literary House and Sophie Kerr Committee welcome the public to the fall series of poetry and fiction readings featuring some of the young lights and the accomplished practitioners of contemporary poetry and fiction, including two graduates of the College's Creative Writing program.
The following readings are scheduled for this fall:
Diana Abu-Jaber, Novelist
Thursday, September 9, 4:30 p.m., Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library
Born in 1959 in Syracuse, NY, to a Jordanian father and an American mother, Abu-Jaber graduated with a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from SUNY Binghamton in 1986, studying with John Gardner and Larry Woiwode. Her first novel, Arabian Jazz, set in upstate New York, was published by Harcourt Brace in 1993 and won the Oregon Book Award, and was a finalist for the National PEN/Hemingway award. Abu-Jaber won a National Endowment for the Arts award to support the writing of her second novel, Memories of Birth, based on the life of her Bedouin grandmother. Her second published novel, Crescent, was released by W.W. Norton in 2003.
Erin Murphy, Poet
Thursday, September 23, 4:30 p.m., Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library
Murphy, a 1990 graduate of Washington College, received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The first-place winner of the 2003 National Writers Union Poetry Award, she has just released her first collection of poetry, Science of Desire, published in June by Word Press. “It's the mixture of verbal sensuousness and quick intelligence that appeals most strongly to me in these vivid poems,” said award-winning poet Eamon Grennan of Murphy's poetic style. “There's something intrepid, honest, insistent in her ability to negotiate at speed between facts and feelings.” Murphy's poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Field, Nimrod, The Paterson Literary Review, Literal Latte, and Kalliope, and her awards include a Pushcart Prize nomination and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. Her second collection of poetry, Too Much of This World, has garnered the Anthony Piccione Poetry Prize and will be published by Mammoth Books.
Brian Clements, Poet
Thursday, September 30, 4:30 p.m., O'Neill Literary House
A Texas-based technical writer with a poetic turn, Clements is the founding editor of the small press Firewheel Editions (http://firewheel-editions.org) and its journal Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics. He is the author of the collections Essays Against Ruin (Texas Review Press),Flesh and Wood (Mbira Press), and Burn Whatever Will Burn: A Book of Common Rituals.
Elizabeth Spires, Poet
Tuesday, October 5, 4:30 p.m., Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library
Spires is the author of five collections of poetry—Globe (1981), Swan's Island (1985),Annonciade (1989), Worldling (1995), and Now the Green Blade Rises (2002)—and of five books for children. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review,The New Criterion, and in the anthologies Contemporary American Poetry and The New Bread Loaf Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. She has been the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1998 she received the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Spires teaches English and creative writing at Goucher College in Towson ,MD, where she holds a Chair for Distinguished Achievement, and lives in Baltimore with her husband, the novelist Madison Smartt Bell, and their daughter.
Peter Turchi, Novelist
Wednesday, October 13, 4:30 p.m., Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library
Turchi, a 1982 graduate of Washington College and winner of the Sophie Kerr Prize, is the author of four books, including the forthcoming Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, The Girls Next Door, and Magician. He is co-editor, with Andrea Barrett, of The Story Behind the Story: 26 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work and, with Charles Baxter, of Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life. Turchi's fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Denver Quarterly, and his short stories “The Night Sky” and “Night, Truck, Two Lights Burning” were recognized in Best American Short Stories. Turchi received his MFA from the University of Arizona, and taught creative writing at DePaul University, Loyola University, Columbia College, the College of DuPage and Northwestern University. In 1993, he moved to Asheville, NC, to direct the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Colum McCann, Novelist
Thursday, November 11, 4:30 p.m., Sophie Kerr Room, Miller Library
McCann is the author of five previous books of fiction: Everything in This Country Must (2000), This Side of Brightness (1998), Songdogs (1995), Fishing the Sloe-Black River (1993), and his most recent novel, Dancer, published by Henry Holt in January, which is a fictional journey into the life of the late Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev. He has also written essays and articles for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, and GQ. McCann was raised in Dublin and in County Derry in Northern Ireland, but has traveled the world and lived in locales as diverse as Texas and Japan. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including the Pushcart, the Irish Hennessy, Butler, and Rooney awards, as well as the 2002 Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award.
This series of readings is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee to honor of the legacy of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, MD, whose generosity has done so much to enrich Washington College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, she left the bulk of her estate to the College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most “ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor” and the other half be used to support Washington College's creative writing program by bringing visiting writers to campus, funding scholarships, and defraying the costs of student publications.