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Mattawa Named MacArthur Fellow

"Those who think creativity is dying should examine the life’s work of these extraordinary innovators who work in diverse fields and in different ways to improve our lives and better our world,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program. “Together, they expand our view of what is possible, and they inspire us to apply our own talents and imagination.”

Among those to whom Conrad was referring as she introduced the 2014 recipients of MacArthur Foundation Fellowship's was our own Khaled Mattawa, who received his MFA in poetry here in 1994. Mattawa's work in translation, transnationalism and Arab and Arab-American poetry makes important contributions to a better understanding of the important role art has to play in cultural mediation. The MacArthur Foundation Fellowships are among the most prestigious accolades in the academic world. Congratulations, Khaled!

Read more about Prof. Mattawa's work and the MacArthur Foundation here:
Kiese Laymon Awarded 2014 Saroyan Prize

Kiese Laymon (MFA Fiction, 2003) has been awarded the 2014 William Saroyan Prize by Stanford University for his debut novel, Long Division. Set in the rural Mississippi in which he was raised, Laymon's novel weaves past and present in a complex time-traveling plot that reviewer Lucy McKeon praises for both its ambition and achievement: "more than anything, Laymon shows with surprising lucidity how American racialized inequality is persistent but mutable, that the past is not the present, but isn't, either, entirely past."

The Saroyan Prize is awarded biennially by Stanford University Library to new and emerging writers in fiction and non-fiction. The judges for the 2014 award in fiction were Heidi Durrow, Patrick Hunt, and Elizabeth McKenzie. Congratulations, Kiese, on this auspicious debut and significant accolade.

“Smart and funny and sharp...I loved it.” — Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones, 2011 National Book Award winner

Read more about Long Division and the Saroyan Prize here:

Link to the Agate Bolden page for Long Division:
Ming Holden's Survival Girls

A creative writer, artist, and international development worker, Ming Holden (2013 Graduate) was most recently invited by the US Embassy to Suriname on a diplomatic speaking engagement under the U.S. Speakers Program for Women’s History Month. In 2011, she founded the Survival Girls, a theater group for young Congolese women in the slums of Nairobi.

Her first book, the nonfiction novella TheSurvival Girls, came out in 2013 through Wolfram Productions. Ming
also won the USAID worldwide essay contest for inclusion in the USAID Frontiers in Development publication alongside work by Bill Gates, Indra Noori, Paul Collier, and others. Her essay about the Survival Girls got some love from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself in the book’s introduction! (Ming’s writing about the Girls was also nominated for the AWP Intro Award for Nonfiction.)
Citro, Kwong: Best New Poets, 2014

Recent alum Chris Citro (MFA, 2013) and still-a-student, but-about-to-become alum Lisa Kwong (MFA, any day now when the bureaucracy catches up to reality) have recently been named among the Best New Poets, 2014. Dorianne Laux selected Chris’s “Gathering a Few Facts” and Lisa’s “An AppalAsian Finds Home in Bloomington, Indiana” for inclusion in the “final fifty” that will be published in Best New Poets, 2014 in November. Congratulations to both Chris and Lisa.

More information on Best New Poets, 2014 can be found here.
Upadhyay's latest novel, The City Son, "not for the faint of heart"

Samrat Upadhyay's latest novel, The City Son, has just been released by independent New York publisher, Soho Press, and is already garnering significant attention. The Wall Street Journal review notes "There's an eerie element of black magic in Didi's Svengali-like manipulation that evokes the domestic horror novels of Shirley Jackson. This superb book stages an intensely powerful showdown.”

Ciara Miller to the Barbados

Congratulations to Ciara Miller (3d year Poetry; dual-degree, MFA and MA in AAADS) who recently was accepted into Callaloo’s Poetry Workshop in the Barbados next month. Callaloo is one of the leading literary and academic journals in African-American and African Diasporic Studies, and this workshop is an amazing opportunity. Ciara has received travel grants from the College of Arts and Sciences and from the College Arts and Humanities Institute to support her participation in the Callaloo poetry workshop.
“The Big Smoke” short-listed for Pulitzer

Adrian Matejka’s The Big Smoke earned yet another significant accolade last week, when it was announced as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, one of America’s foremost literary awards. A distinguished three-person panel (this year’s panel consisted of a poet, an editor, and a critic) select, each year, three books of poetry, from whom the 18-person Pulitzer Board selects one as the annual award recipient; to have emerged as one of only three finalists from the hundreds of nominated books is a tremendous honor. You can read an interview about the process with one of this year’s selectors here.

In a recent interview, Adrian said of the recent honors garnered by The Big Smoke: “These recognitions are wonderful affirmations for ‘The Big Smoke’ and Jack Johnson’s story . . . in many ways, each of those accolades points back to Johnson, as it should, since I wrote the book trying to bring his story into the contemporary dialogue of race and politics. It’s humbling and extraordinary at the same time.” Read the full interview here.

There are times for humility and times for justifiable pride; this is one of the latter times, and all of us at Indiana offer our heartfelt congratulations to Adrian for his achievement.
"Townsend’s writing full of fresh turns of phrase and keen insights"

The headline above is taken from a review by Ayana Mathis in the most recent Sunday Review of Books from the New York Times. Congratulations, Jacinda, on this positive notice of your "compelling debut."

Read the review here.
Matejka wins Guggenheim Fellowship

Poet Adrian Matejka’s Annus Mirabilis keeps rolling along, as he has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2014-15. The Guggenheim is a prestigious fellowship awarded to “men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” Congratulations to Adrian; this accolade is first and foremost an individual honor, but it also reflects well on the Creative Writing Program and on the English Department as a whole. Adrian’s most recent honor continues an especially strong recent run of success by the English Department, and by our poets in particular: three years ago, poet Maurice Manning and scholar George Hutchinson were each awarded fellowships; and just last year poet Ross Gay and scholar Rob Fulk were each awarded fellowships. Congratulations, Adrian, on another well-deserved honor.
Matejka wins 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award

Congratulations once again to Adrian Matejka for more honors garnered by The Big Smoke.
Last fall, the book was short-listed for a National Book Award; today it was announced as one of the winners of this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Award, presented each year since 1935 by the Cleveland Public Library to celebrate "books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and human diversity." This is arguably the country’s foremost literary award specifically keyed to works that highlight issues of social justice. Among the many distinguished winners recognized for individual titles, Adrian joins such figures as Zora Neale Hurston, John Hersey, Langston Hughes, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maxine Hong Kingston, Wole Soyinka, Toni Morrison, Nadine Gordimer, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Sandra Cisneros, Jamaica Kincaid, and more recently, Junot Diaz, who will visit here next week. Since 1996, the awards jury has been chaired by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who described Adrian’s book as “a collection of poems on the myth and unapologetic masculinity of the first African-American heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson."