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Coleman Winner of 2015 Berkshire Prize

Patrick Coleman (2011 MFA Graduate, Fiction) is the winner of the 2015 Berkshire Prize for his manuscript, Fire Season.

Judge Carol Frost writes: The poems in Fire Season are full of friction--common word touching common word making that friction. They are also philosophical and personal. Patrick Coleman is tuned in to landscape, language, and humanity, each poem casual as office talk and heightened by their proximity to art and by the force of the sentence--such arresting sentences.

The winner of the Berkshire Prize receives a $3,000 cash prize, publication by Tupelo Press, and national distribution.

Congratulations, Patrick!
Simeon Berry's Ampersand Revisited and Monograph

Congratulations to Simeon Berry (2002 MFA Graduate, Poetry) for publishing his first collection of poetry, Ampersand Revisited (Fence Books, 2015, winner of the National 2013 Poetry Series, selected by Ariana Reines) and his second book of poetry, Monograph (University of Georgia Press, 2015, winner of the 2014 National Poetry Series, selected by Denise Duhamel).

By winning both the 2013 and the 2014 National Poetry Series, Simeon becomes the second poet in the 36-year-history of the Series to win twice, and the only one to win in consecutive years. In 2014, the prize money for each of the five winners of the Series was increased to $10,000 thanks to a grant from the Lannan Foundation.

Consisting of three long poems, Ampersand Revisited traces the legacy of a father drawn toward the occult and a mother immured in a personality disorder through the experiential wisdom of a neurotic Connecticut teenager.

Written in narrow sections that blur the distinction between flash fiction and prose poetry, between memoir and meditation, Monograph veers from the elliptical to the explosive as it dissects the Gordian knot of a marriage’s intellectual, sexual, and domestic lives.

Simeon Berry lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. He has been an Associate Editor for Ploughshares, and won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Individual Artist Grant and a Career Chapter Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. His work has appeared in Crazyhorse, AGNI, Colorado Review, Blackbird, DIAGRAM, The Iowa Review, American Letters & Commentary, and many other journals.
Ming Holden Wins 49th Parallel Award

Ming Holden (MFA, 2013) is the winner of the 2015 49th Parallel Award for Poetry, awarded by the Bellingham Review for her poem, "For My Aspirated." For the complete press release from the Bellingham Review, including (effusive!) judge's comments, click here: http://bhreview.org/2015/06/11/announcing-the-winners-of-the-bellingham-reviews-2015-literary-contests/.

Well done, Ming!
Metres to be Honored at Yale

Philip J. Metres III (MFA; PhD, 2001) has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the George W. Hunt, S.J. Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters awarded by America Media and the St. Thomas More Chapel of Yale University. Metres's writing "has been called “beautiful, powerful, magnetically original.” Lawrence Joseph, professor at Saint John’s University, has written that “Philip Metres’s poetry speaks to us all, in ways critical, vital, profound, and brilliant.” His poems have been translated into Arabic, Polish, Russian and Tamil.

Dr. Metres will be awarded a $25,000 prize at a reception to be held at the Saint Thomas More Chapel and Center in September, where Professor Metres will also deliver an original lecture that will be published as the cover story in a subsequent issue of America. “We are very pleased with the decision of the selection committee,” said Father Robert Beloin, chaplain of the Thomas More Chapel and Center. “Professor Metres is a shining example of the power of good writing to change minds and hearts.”

The George W. Hunt, S.J. Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts & Letters, was established in 2014. The Hunt Prize was made possible through the generous gift of Mr. Fay Vincent, Jr., a long-time and cherished friend of the late Fr. George Hunt, S.J., the longest-tenured Editor-in-Chief of America magazine. Mr. Vincent currently serves as a trustee on the Board of Trustees of the St. Thomas More Chapel and Center and Yale University. The Hunt Prize seeks to encourage writers under the age of 45 who employ a Catholic imagination in their writing.

http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/philip-j-metres-iii-selected-inaugural-recipient-25000-george-w-hunt-sj-prize

Congratulations, Phil!
Kyle Dargan's Honest Engine

Congratulations to Kyle Dargan (2005 Graduate, Poetry) for publishing his fourth collection of poetry, Honest Engine (University of Georgia Press, 2015). In this collection, Dargan examines the mechanics of the heart and mind as they are weathered by loss.

Following a spate of deaths among family and friends, Dargan chooses to present not color-negative elegies but self-portraits that capture what of these departed figures
remains within him. Amid this processing of mortality, it becomes clear that he has arrived at a turning point as a writer and a man.

“Scary smart and admirably vulnerable, this book is a treasure." - Victor LaValle, novelist and author of Big Machine and The Devil in Silver
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: http://www.macfound.org/fellows/922/
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: https://library.stanford.edu/projects/william-saroyan-international-prize-writing/2014-fiction-winner

Link to the Agate Bolden page for Long Division: http://www.agatepublishing.com/book/?GCOI=93284100797570
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.)
Alison Powell’s On the Desire to Levitate (Ohio U.P., 2014)

Congratulations to Alison Powell (Poetry, 2006) whose On the Desire to Levitate won last year’s Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, and has just been released by Ohio University Press.

This striking collection includes vivid,
unflinching meditations on aging, mythology, poetry, and family. In tight, elegant lines that alternate between homage and elegy, these poems explore known subjects with a rebellious eye: a defeated Hercules and a bitter Eurydice, a sympathetic Lucifer, and generations of adolescent girls as mythical adventurers moving within a beloved but confining Midwest. Yet in Powell's skillful hands, hardship never overtakes: as judge Charles Hood writes, “There's often a delicious humor in this work, and always a deep and lasting integrity.”

http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/On+the+Desire+to+Levitate
NPR interview with Kiese Laymon about his recently published essay collection

Read the entire story and listen to the interview here.