Three English undergraduates graduated in spring 2012 with Community Engagement Scholars Program recognition: Kari Eloranta, Abdiasis Hirsi, and Anna Kraemer. This honor recognizes that the students have performed 400 hours of community engagement addressing social issues and community needs throughout their undergraduate careers at the University of Minnesota.
Eric Blix (BA '11) has flash fiction forthcoming in the NewerYork Press's Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature. It's his first published story.
Seamas Cain (BA '73) presented a paper as well as scenes from his drama "The Prairie Gaeltacht" at the "Ireland in Crisis" Conference, the 2012 International Conference of ICIS : The International Congress of Irish Studies, July 10 and 11, 2012.
Scott Carlson (BA '98) was a guest lecturer at Hartwick College this fall. Hartwick is basing its 2012-13 curriculum on his February 5, 2012, article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, where he is a senior reporter.
Mary Casanova (BA '81) published the young adult historical novel Frozen with University of Minnesota Press.
Kari Eloranta (BA '12) received a University of Minnesota Alumni Association Student Leadership Award and a President's Student Leadership and Service Award in spring 2012.
Peter Geye (BA '00) published his second novel, The Lighthouse Road, with Unbridled Books.
Janet Groth (BA '57) published a memoir, The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker, with Algonquin Books.
Leigh Herrick (BA '88) published Home Front: Poems of the Bush II Years.
Clay Jenkinson (BA '77) published The Character of Meriwether Lewis: Explorer in the Wilderness (Dakota Institute Press, 2011).
Kathleen Jesme (BA '75) published the poetry collection Meridian with Tupelo Press; it won the Tupelo Press Snowbound Prize.
John Jodzio (BA '99) published his second collection of short stories, Get In If You Want To Live, with Paper Darts Press (started by 2009 BA alumnae Jamie Millard, Regan Smith, and Meghan Hanson Suszynski). His stories have been published in McSweeney's and Opium.
Sam Kean (BA summa cum laude '02) published his second nonfiction book, The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code (Little Brown, 2012), which followed his first, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, onto The New York Times' nonfiction bestseller list.
Garrison Keillor (BA '66) republished A Christmas Blizzard (Penguin, 2011) and edited Good Poems, American Places (Viking, 2011).
Meredith Kessler (BA '05) accepted a position as publicist for Milkweed Editions, the award-winning small press in Minneapolis. She worked previously for Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York.
Ed Bok Lee (BA '94) won an American Book Award and the Minnesota Book Award for Poetry for his second collection Whorled (Coffee House Press, 2011).
Echo Martin (BA '12) received a President's Student Leadership and Service Award from the University of Minnesota in spring 2012.
Jamie Millard (BA '09) accepted a position as Client Relationship Manager at Fast Horse, a Minneapolis marketing company. She previously worked as Communications Specialist at Charities Review Council. She is a board member for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Twin Cities and continues as Executive Director for the literary arts magazine Paper Darts.
Susan Niz (BA '97) was named a finalist in the Midwest Book Awards for Fiction: Literary for her novel Kara, Lost.
Tim Nolan (BA '78) published his second collection of poems, And Then, with New Rivers Press.
Sheila O'Connor (BA '82) published her second book for younger readers, Keeping Safe the Stars (Putnam Juvenile, 2012), which received a positive notice in The New York Times Book Review.
Regan Smith (BA '09) has accepted a position as Community Engagement Program Associate at AchieveMpls. She also took first prize in the Annual Summer Story Contest of Twin Cities weekly newspaper Vita.mn, which is produced by the Star Tribune. The 260 entrants wrote 300-600 word short stories on the theme of the Seven Deadly Sins. Smith's entry, "Spud," explored sloth through the vehicle of an enslaved potato.
Cheryl Strayed (BA '97) published Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Knopf, 2012) to positive reviews from the New York Times, Interview, and Vogue, among others. The memoir was selected by Opera Winfrey Oprah Winfrey's OWN network and O magazine to kick off Oprah's Book Club 2.0, a reading club built around online interaction; it spent the summer at the top of The New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction. Wild has been optioned for a film directed by Lisa Cholodenko and starring Reese Witherspoon. Strayed also published Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar (Vintage, 2012), a collection of her advice columns on The Rumpus.net.
Lance Witzig (BA '11) is working at Second Nature Entrada, a wilderness therapy program based in St. George, UT.
David Wojahn (BA '76) was awarded the Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, which honors the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year, for his 2011 collection World Tree (University of Pittsburgh). Wojahn will receive $25,000. He is a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Maxine Kaiser Russell, one of our oldest living alums (BA '32), passed away June 3, 2012, at age 100. Born February 17, 1912, she married Robert Lee Russell, Jr., in 1946. They settled in Golden Valley, where they raised two children. When Robert retired in 1972, they moved north to his hometown of Brainerd. A poet, she published numerous collections. When she was 87, she was chosen as Poet Laureate by the League of Minnesota Poets and served from 1999 to 2004. According to her obituary, the League chose her for her "active participation in fostering poetry at state and national levels," as well as her writing.