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Unabashed Gratitude

Brighten your day. Brighten your bookshelves. Ross Gay has published another collection of poems.

“ . . . this is as delicate/as we can be/in this life/practicing/like this . . . ”

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a sustained meditation on that which goes away—loved ones, the seasons, the earth as we know it—that tries to find solace in the processes of the garden and the orchard. That is, this is a book that studies the wisdom of the garden and orchard, those places where all—death, sorrow, loss—is converted into what might, with patience, nourish us.

Thank you, Ross.

Since its inception in 1967, the Pitt Poetry Series has been a vehicle for America’s finest contemporary poets. The series list includes Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Toi Derricotte, Denise Duhamel, Lynn Emanuel, Bob Hicok, Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser, Larry Levis, Sharon Olds, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Virgil Suárez, Afaa Michael Weaver, David Wojahn, Dean Young, and many others.

Throughout its history, the Pitt Poetry Series has provided a voice for the diversity that is American poetry, representing poets from many backgrounds without allegiance to any one school or style.
Matejka 2014 Lannan Fellow

"Where there's smoke, there's fire."

And the author of The Big Smoke remains on fire. Last week, Adrian Matejka was a finalist for the 2014 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award in Poetry (kudos to Amaud Jamal Johnson who won for his collection, Darktown Follies). This week, he raised the bar again, when he received the 2014 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry:

Lannan Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity through projects which support exceptional contemporary artists and writers, as well as inspired Native activists in rural indigenous communities.

The Foundation recognizes the profound and often unquantifiable value of the creative process and is willing to take risks and make substantial investments in ambitious and experimental thinking.

The Foundation also gives awards and fellowships to writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and in the area of cultural freedom. Awards recognize individuals for extraordinary work in their fields.
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.”

“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."
Townsend's Saint Monkey published by Norton

Congratulations to Jacinda Townsend on the early positive press for her debut novel, St. Monkey,
released last month by W. W. Norton!
Carmela Cuiraru calls the novel “impressive” in the New York Times And Jason Diamond hears echoes of James Baldwin in “one of the best debuts of the year so far”.

Matejka SHORT-listed for National Book Award *UPDATE*

The Short List has been announced for the National Book Award in Poetry; and it is a formidable group:

Frank Bidart – UC-Riverside; Winner of: Bollingen Prize, Wallace Stevens Award, Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, Ambassador Book Award for Poetry.
Lucie Brock-Broido – Director of Poetry, Columbia University School of the Arts; Winner of Witter-Bynner prize of Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Matt Rasmussen – Winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets.
Mary Szybist - Winner of Beatrice Hawley Award, National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Witter Bynner Prize of Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship
And . . .

Adrian Matejka – Height 6’1” Weight 215lbs Reach 74”

Vegas is offering 9/5 on Matejka by TKO in the third round.
Poet Adrian Matejka has been named a semi-finalist for a National Book Award

Poet Adrian Matejka has been named a semi-finalist for a National Book Award, the National Book Foundation announced last week. His latest book of poems, "The Big Smoke," is about the life of boxer Jack Johnson. This year, for the first time, the National Book Foundation began a practice of releasing a “long list” of ten nominees that will be pared to a “short list” of five next month, with the winner being named in November. The National Book Foundation's mission is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America. Inclusion on the long list is a significant honor, involving selection from a list of roughly 200 nominated poets. Let’s wish Adrian well for the next month or so, as the tension mounts, along (no doubt) with reading invitations. Congratulations and good luck, Adrian.

The National Book Award is one of the nation's most prestigious literary prizes and has a stellar record of identifying and rewarding quality writing. In 1950, William Carlos Williams was the first Winner in Poetry, the following year William Faulkner was honored in Fiction, and so on through the years. Many previous Winners of a National Book Award are now firmly established in the canon of American literature, such as Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, and Adrienne Rich.