Recent MFA grad, Kendra DeColo, wins 2013 Saturnalia Book Award

Kendra DeColo

Kendra DeColo, who received her MFA from Vanderbilt in 2011, has won the 2013 Saturnalia Book Award for her first collection of poetry.   DeColo’s book, Crooked Hope, will be published by Saturnalia Books and will receive a $2,000 award.  Poet Yusef Komunyakaa was the judge.

Kate Daniels awarded Guggenheim

Poet Kate Daniels, Director of the Creative Writing Program, has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for 2013-2014.

Daniels, professor of English, will devote part of her fellowship to writing new poems based on archival research into the records of Eastern State Hospital. Established in Virginia in 1770 as The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds, Eastern State Hospital, which remains in operation today, was the first public institution for the mentally ill in the United States.

“Part of my interest in capturing this subject matter is related to two of my classes: ‘The Art of Medical Writing’ and ‘Why Write: Perspectives on Literary Creativity,’” Daniels said. “Both of these investigate poetic language, literary creativity, and the psychology of creative writers.”

Daniels will also be considering through poetry the many connections between medicine/illness/health care and creative writing. She will focus in particular on bipolar disease, including its prevalence among poets, and she will be looking for new ways of understanding the role of bipolar disease in linguistic creativity and literary production.

Daniels, who directs Vanderbilt’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, is an affiliated faculty member in the Center for Medicine, Health and Society. She previously served as associate dean in the College of Arts and Science. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Virginia, as well as a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University. Recent poems of Daniels, who came to Vanderbilt in 1994, have been published in Best American Poetry 2010 and Best American Poetry 2008. Her books include A Walk in Victoria’s Secret (LSU 2010), Four Testimonies (LSU, 1998) and The Niobe Poems (Pittsburgh, 1989). She has received the Pushcart Prize, the James Dickey Prize and the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ Hanes Award for Poetry, among others.



Recent MFA grad, Matthew Baker, wins Fulbright to Ireland

Matthew Baker, who came to Vanderbilt with the MFA class of 2011, is currently a Fulbright Fellow in Ireland, where he is working on a novel.  While at Vanderbilt, he launched the online literary magazine, Nashville Review; he held a Third Year Fiction Fellowship in 2011-2012.

His fiction has appeared in such publications as American Short FictionNew England ReviewThe Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Meridian, Conjunctions, RedividerColorado Review, Denver QuarterlyHayden’s Ferry Review, and Best Of The Net. He also serves as translator for an “interlinked novel” titled The Numberless, a “randomized novella” titled Kaleidoscope, and an “intentionally posthumous” serialized novel titled Afterthought.   He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Blue Mountain Center.

Mark Jarman’s new book, Bone Fires, wins 2011 Balcones Poetry Prize

Mark Jarman’s book, Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems, has won the 2011 Balcones Poetry Prize, awarded by the Balcones Center for Creative Writing at Austin Community College to recognize an outstanding book of poetry published the previous year.

The judges noted that Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems collects poems from Mark Jarman’s eight previous books along with a generous selection of new poems. They cited the title poem, recalling the original meaning of “bonfire” as a religious ritual to ensure the return of light from the darkness of winter, which, they found, points to the essentially spiritual nature of Jarman’s lifelong poetic quest. They were impressed by the “clarity and simplicity of his diction, the musicality and cadence of his voice and keenness of perception in which ordinary experience is rendered luminous and the extraordinary, transcendent.” “The language is simple and straightforward, but beautifully rendered and able to show complicated ideas and feelings as if they were tangible things.” He “listens like truth”…and offers poems that are “nothing less than the soul’s labour, it’s singing.”

Former winners of the Balcones Poetry Prize include Chase Twichell, Arthur Sze, and Reginald Gibbons.  The four finalists for the 2011 award were:

  • Songs of Unreason, Jim Harrison (Copper Canyon Press)
  • Space, In Chains, Laura Kasischke (Copper Canyon Press)
  • The Politics, Benjamin Paloff (Carnegie Mellon University Press)
  • The World Falls Away, Wanda Coleman (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Bachmann wins Poetry Society of America’s 2011 Di Castagnola Award

Beth Bachmann’s new poems have won The Poetry Society of America’s 2011 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award for a manuscript-in-progress.  Judge Elizabeth Willis writes, in the citation, that “We feel the poems pushing against grammar and logic and into phenomena. Words and phrases break into ‘fire,’ into ‘splinters,’ into ‘fragments. At times it is as if we are watching a chemical reaction reset to the rhythm of human perception.”

One of Bachmann’s new poems, “muse of arms,” was posted on the PSA website with the commendation by Willis, who also notes about the new manuscript, “It is as if we could witness the decomposition and refiguring of the world within the decomposition and refiguring of the line.”

The Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award honors the memory of a benefactor of the PSA and carries with it a cash award of $1,000.  Previous winners have included Natasha Saje (2008), Mary Jo Bang (2005), and Chana Bloch (2004).