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.

Bachmann wins the 2010 Kate Tufts Discovery Award

Beth Bachmann

Beth Bachmann was named the 2010 winner of The Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which honors a poet’s first book. Bachmann’s Temper, published last year by the University of Pittsburgh Press, was called “an unforgettable first book” by poet Lynn Emanuel.

“Temper’s account of a murder encompasses the polarities of flesh and spirit, love and horror,” Emanuel said. “The drama of this horrifying event, however, is not what is most compelling about Temper. What is most compelling is the way Beth Bachmann presides over the drama with a courage and restraint which manifest themselves as the beauty of these poems.”

The Kate Tufts Discovery Award, given by Claremont Graduate University, was created by Kate Tufts to “enable a poet to work on his or her craft for a while without paying bills.” It is presented to “a first book by a poet of genuine promise.” Poets Linda Gregerson, Carl Phillips, Paul Muldoon, Ted Genoways and Charles Harper Webb were judges for the award.

“This is a great honor for Beth, and yet another sign of a very bright future for her,” said Carolyn Dever, dean of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt.

Bachmann, assistant professor of English at Vanderbilt, has published in American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, and Tin House. Temper also won the AWP Award Series 2008 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected by this panel of poets, whose work I greatly admire,” Bachmann said. “The award is unbelievably encouraging and extremely motivating.”

Vanderbilt’s Pruitt named a Top 40 poet by Essence magazine

Stephanie Pruitt

Stephanie Pruitt, who received her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing in May 2010, has been named one of “Forty Favorite Poets” by Essence magazine in honor of its 40th anniversary.  Pruitt’s name appeared alongside such luminaries as Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, former Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Marilyn Nelson, Elizabeth Alexander, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

“I did a double take when I saw my name in the proximity of so many of the writers I have long admired,” Pruitt said. “It’s nice to be recognized and I take this as a nod that I’m moving in the right direction, but success for me comes one poem at a time.”

Pruitt, a native of Nashville, received the 2010 Academy of American Poets Prize and the 2009 Sedberry Prize.  She was a finalist for Poet and Writers’ Maureen Egen Award.

Her current project is a collection of poems about two fictional half-sisters during the period from 1840 to 1860; Pruitt’s poems follow the sisters as they escape from a Middle Tennessee plantation and settle in the North.

Her poems construct their narrative backbone on documented, historical places and occurrences.  Pruitt did research in a number of archives around the United States, many of them in Tennessee, including Belle Meade Plantation and The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home.

Here’s an excerpt from Pruitt’s poem Black Pepper 1841:

Knowing one day, others may run

cook stows it away

in apron pockets as she prepares

a meal she will not sit down to eat.

Teaspoons of crushed black gold

coating boot heels with hope

that it will defeat the hounds.

Let those well seasoned feet run.