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).

DeColo wins Academy of American Poets Prize; Abushanab and Schepmann receive awards

Academy of American Poets Prize

In Spring 2011, the Creative Writing Program announced the winner of the 2011 Academy of American Poets Prize.   Poet Mary Kinzie judged the contest.

Winner:    Kendra DeColo, then a second-year MFA student, for “The Strap-On Speaks”

Honorable mentions:     Amanda Abel, then a first-year MFA student, for “Jasmine”  &  Donika Ross, graduate student, for “Little Box”

DeColo has since received her MFA and Abel is now a second-year MFA student in the English Department’s Creative Writing Program; Ross is a PhD student in the English Department who previously obtained an MFA at the University of Texas at Austin.

Sedberry Poetry Award

Chad Abushanab, then a first-year MFA student in poetry, was named the recipient of the 2011 Sedberry Poetry Award last spring.  This award, which has been in existence only a short time, was given to MFA graduates Stephanie Pruitt in 2009 and Lisa Dordal in 2010.


Outstanding MFA Writing Studio Consultant

In Spring 2011, Jill Schepmann, then a first-year MFA student, won the first annual award for Outstanding MFA Writing Studio Consultant to acknowledge her excellent work with students in the Writing Studio.

Baker and Greenberg have received fellowships for a third year at Vanderbilt

Matt Baker and Zack Greenberg

The MFA program received support for two fellowships in Creative Writing in the spring of 2011.  The faculty then decided to give the fellowships to two second-year students; with this support, the recipients are now able to spend a third year in residence at Vanderbilt.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, they will be able to take part in a variety of activities associated with the Creative Writing Program and to concentrate without interruption on their own writing.

These new third-year fellowships were awarded to fiction writer Matthew Baker and poet Zachary Greenberg, who are able to remain enrolled at Vanderbilt as non-credit students (they will receive their degrees in May 2012).

Quarry wins Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize

Justin Quarry

Justin Quarry’s story, “Test-Drive Baby,” originally published in The Southern Review, recently won the Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize.  It will be reprinted as the grand prize-winning story in the Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories anthology.

Quarry, an alumnus of Vanderbilt who went on to receive his MFA from the University of Virginia, has returned to Vanderbilt to teach fiction.  His work has appeared in such magazines as TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, New England Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review.

Kate Daniels receives Fellowship of Southern Writers award

In April 2011, Vanderbilt poet Kate Daniels received the 2011 Hanes Award for Poetry by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, an award for outstanding literary achievement by a Southern poet.  Born and raised in Richmond Virginia, Daniels has spent much of her teaching career in the South: three years at each the University of Virginia and Louisiana State and 15 years at Vanderbilt.

Poet Kate Daniels

Daniels received the award and read from her work at the annual FSW Conference on Southern Literature in Chatta- nooga. Previous winners of the Haynes Award for Poetry include Yusef Komunyakaa and Ellen Bryant Voigt.

The Fellowship of Southern Writers (FSW), founded in 1987 by a group of distinguished Southern writers, claims as its purpose to recognize and encourage literature in the South.  FSW founding members included: Cleanth Brooks, Fred Chappell, James Dickey, Shelby Foote, John Hope Franklin, Walker Percy, Reynolds Price, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and C. Vann Woodward.

The Fellowship is composed of 50 active members.  To be considered for membership a writer must have been born and raised, or have resided for a significant part of his or her life in the South (or have written works that in character and spirit embody aspects of the Southern experience).  Current members of FSW include: Madison Smartt Bell, Wendell Berry, Rita Dove, Gail Godwin, Allan Gurganus, Mary Lee Settle, Dave Smith, Eleanor Ross Taylor, Henry Taylor, and Charles Wright.

Daniels is the author of four books of poetry, The White Wave, The Niobe Poems, Four Testimonies, and, most recently, A Walk in Victoria’s Secret, released in November 2010. The White Wave received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for Poetry.  She has also edited a volume of poems by Muriel Rukeyser and co-edited Of Solitude and Silence: Writings on Robert Bly.

Her honors include the James Dickey Prize for Poetry from Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art,  the Louisiana Literature Prize for Poetry from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a Bunting Fellowship from what is now called the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.