A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to return to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Ripton, Vermont, where since 1926, writers have been gathering to compare notes on the craft, discuss their respective triumphs and frustrations, and listen to countless readings and lectures. It’s an amazing place, rich with the type of natural beauty you find imitated in paintings hanging from the walls of doctors’ offices. There’s a sense when you’re there that you’re taking part in some great tradition, and of course, there’s the lore to back that up, famous anecdotes concerning the conference’s founder, Robert Frost, and various faculty who’ve taught there over the years, stories as old and treasured as the place itself. It was my fourth trip there and as lame as it might sound, I fall a little more in love with the place each year.
To continue reading, click here.
Professor Toi Derricotte received the Alumni/Alumnae Achievement Award from the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Kiss Kiss, the latest poetry collection by Linda Lee Harper (MFA 1985), was published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center. The book won the 2007 Cleveland Statue University Poetry Center Open Competition.
Eugene Cross’ story "Only the Strong Will Survive," (which won the 2005 Turow-Kinder Award) appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Third Coast. His story, “Come August” appears in the Spring 2008 (28:2) issue of The Pinch.
Pitt graduate Dennis Palumbo (B.A., 1973), author of From Crime to Crime and Writing From the Inside Out, recently examined the trend to label irresponsible and selfish behavior as evidence of a mental illness in an article in The Huffington Post. “Do You Suffer From Political Apathy Disorder?” appeared in the January 22, 2009 edition of the blog. You can read Mr. Palumbo’s thought-provoking piece here.
Work by Visiting Writer Sherrie Flick, who teaches Readings in Contemporary Fiction with a focus on Flash Fiction, will be included in an upcoming anthology of flash fiction craft essays, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. The anthology is ready for pre-order at the press' Website now, but the book itself will be printed and ready to launch by mid-May. The anthology will also include essays by other experts in the field—including Robert Olen Butler, Ron Carlson, Kim Chinquee, Stuart Dybek, Jayne Anne Phillips and Deb Olin Unferth, along with a history-packed introduction by editor Tara L. Masih.
An essay by Lois Williams (Lecturer, Department of English), “The House of Provisions,” published by Granta (Issue 103), has been honored with a Notable Essay selection in the 2009 issue of The Best American Essays, edited by Mary Oliver.
From the department website:
Lois Williams teaches poetry, reading, and writing in the Department's undergraduate curriculum. She writes about landscape, family, and migration and is currently at work on a nonfiction book about the invention of home. Her essay “The House of Provisions” appears in the October 2008 issue of Granta.
Congratulations to Rebecca Skloot (MFA Nonfiction, 2008), whose upcoming book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was just named A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, Spring 2010.
Publishers Weekly writes, that Skloot's work is “a remarkable debut … a rich, resonant tale of modern science, the wonders it can perform and how easily it can exploit society’s most vulnerable people.“
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells — taken without her knowledge — became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though Henrietta has been dead for nearly sixty years. They were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to the small, dying town of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where Henrietta’s children, unable to afford health insurance, wrestle with feelings of pride, fear, and betrayal. Their story is inextricably linked to the birth of bioethics, the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, and the legal battles that could determine whether we own our bodies. Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to pub down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.