Saturday, July 23, 2011
Poet Jehanne Dubrow Named Interim Director of Rose O'Neill Literary House at Washington College
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Poet Jehanne Dubrow has accepted a two-year interim appointment as director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College. She fills a vacancy created earlier this summer when former director Mark Nowak moved to Purchase, N.Y., to lead the Graduate Creative Writing program at Manhattanville College .
In announcing the appointment, interim provost and dean John Taylor described Dubrow as “a gifted poet of growing national reputation who will bring energy, imagination and creativity to the programming of our literary events.” He also expressed his confidence that Dubrow, a popular assistant professor of English on the Washington College campus, “will create a welcoming environment for students with diverse interests in the craft of writing.”
English Department chair Kate Moncrief, an associate professor of English and the chair of the College’s Sophie Kerr Committee, also looks forward to Dubrow’s new role on campus. “Jehanne’s accomplishments and ability as both a poet and a teacher make her an ideal fit for the Literary House,” she says. “She has earned the respect of the students as an assistant professor in the English department, teaching both introductory and advanced courses in creative writing. She’s an immensely talented writer whose connections to the local area and in the larger literary world will be an asset for the Literary House and for Washington College.”
Moncrief praised departing director Nowak—an accomplished documentary poet and a recipient of a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship—for his accomplishments, especially noting the renowned writers he brought to campus during his two years at the Literary House. “Mark brought a unique vision to both his teaching and his work as Literary House Director,” she said. “He hosted a number of nationally and internationally recognized writers including National Poetry Slam champion Patricia Smith, Argentine novelist Rodrigo Fresán, poets Ken Chen, Deborah Landau and Claudia Rankine, and novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz. The English department wishes him well in his new position. ”
His successor, Dubrow, is a widely praised poet whose most recent collection, Stateside (Northwestern University Press, 2010), is based on her experiences as a military wife, or “milspouse”—her husband, Jeremy, is an officer in the U.S. Navy. Stateside was awarded the 2011 Book Prize for Poetry from the Society of Midland Authors and was featured on the public radio show Fresh Air and the PBS News Hour arts blog.
She is the author of two earlier poetry collections—From the Fever World, which won the 2009 Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Competition, and The Hardship Post (2009), winner of the Three Candles Press Open Book Award. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, The Promised Bride, in 2007.
Her newest collection, Red Army Red, is scheduled to be published by Northwestern University Press in 2012. Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser selected the first poem from that manuscript, “Chernobyl Year,” for one of his weekly columns for the Poetry Foundation’s “American Life in Poetry” website.
Dubrow’s poems, creative nonfiction and book reviews have appeared in journals such as The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, The New England Review, Barrow Street, Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Shenandoah and Prairie Schooner. She also blogs about the writing life at “Notes from the Gefilte Review” (http://gefiltereview.blogspot.com). This past spring, Dubrow was awarded a $6,000 Individual Artist Award in poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council. She also has been the recipient of a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship and Howard Nemerov Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and a Sosland Foundation Fellowship from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The daughter of U.S. diplomats, Dubrow was born in Italy and grew up in Poland, Yugoslavia, Zaire, Belgium, Austria and the United States. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from St. John’s College, where she reveled in the Great Books curriculum, then completed a master’s in creative writing at the University of Maryland and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The poet and professor is already crafting her vision for what the Lit House can be. “I hope that students will continue to see the House as a fun gathering place but will also come to view it as a space in which they can begin practicing the skills, behaviors and strategies of professional writers,” she says. “In terms of programming, I would like to bring more emerging artists to campus—writers who have already built impressive careers but who are also young enough to connect with and inspire our undergraduates. Finally,” she adds, “I’m really interested to see what kinds of interdisciplinary programs the Literary House might be able to offer in the future—for instance, events that merge literature and the visual arts, or theater and the sciences.”
The Literary House was founded by Washington College English Professor emeritus Robert Day in 1970. It moved to its present location at 407 Washington Avenue in the mid-1980s after a generous gift from Mrs. Betty Brown Casey ’47 and her husband Eugene B. Casey helped the College purchase and renovate the building. The House is named in honor of Eugene Casey’s mother, Rose O’Neill Casey. Professor Day directed the Lit House until his retirement in 1997. Since then, it has been led by Professor Robert Mooney (1997-2005), novelist Benjamin Anastas (interim, 2005-06), historian Joshua Wolf Shenk (2006-2009) and Mark Nowak. For more on the Literary House, please visit: http://lithouse.washcoll.edu.