August 2011 Archives

Welcome Peter Campion

Image of Peter CampionPoet, critic, and editor Peter Campion joins the Department of English this fall as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. Campion, winner of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, is the author of two collections of poetry, The Lions and Other People. Since 2007, he has served as the editor-in-chief of the journal Literary Imagination. He held the Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry from Stanford University and is the recipient of the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as a Pushcart Prize. He received his MA in Creative Writing from Boston University and previously taught at Auburn University. Professor Campion will teach a graduate level poetry writing class this fall.

Alumna Joyce Sutphen Is Minnesota Poet Laureate

Image of Joyce SutphenGovernor Mark Dayton announced that Joyce Sutphen (English BA 1982, MA in English & Creative Writing 1993, English PhD 1996) will serve as the Poet Laureate for the State of Minnesota, following inaugural state Poet Laureate Robert Bly. In this role, Sutphen will promote and support poetry in Minnesota. "Joyce Sutphen is a talented writer and teacher who will be a great voice for poetry in Minnesota," Governor Dayton said. Sutphen won a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry for her third collection of poetry, Naming the Stars (Holy Cow! Press, 2004). Her latest collection is First Words (Red Dragonfly Press, 2010). She teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

New Book from Professor Rabinowitz

Image of Rabinowitz book coverProfessor Paula Rabinowitz is the co-editor with Cristina Giorcelli of Accessorizing the Body: Habits of Being I (University of Minnesota Press, August), the first volume of a four-part series charting the social, cultural, and political expression of clothing, dress and accessories to decipher how materials offer meanings. Professor Rabinowitz recently blogged about the brisk market for fake brand clothing, officially sanctioned or otherwise--the celebration of the "knock-off of the knock-off"--in Shanghai, China, where she taught as a Distinguished Fulbright Lecturer in American Culture at East China Normal University this past spring.

Alumnus Reports from Japan

Image of Nate Olson in front of cherry treesEnglish alumnus Nate Olson (BA 2010), who has been teaching English in Japan with the JET program, weathered the March earthquake in Hanamaki in the Iwate prefecture, 50 miles away from some of the worst tsunami damage. "A couple days prior to the quake," he writes us, "there was a magnitude 5 tremor which was the biggest earthquake I'd ever experienced. Everyone else at my school hardly batted an eye. . . . Then the big quake came [a magnitude 9]. The walls and light fixtures shook violently, books toppled off the shelves, and I said ten 'Hail Marys' and five 'Our Fathers' while waiting for the floor to collapse beneath me." The quake lasted six minutes. Olson marveled at the Japanese people's selfless and ordered response, observing that the teachers at his school visited each of their students' homes ("on spring vacation, no less!") to check on their well-being. "As an outsider, I was completely taken aback by the care I received from neighbors, coworkers, and even complete strangers following the quake."

Olson works as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) at two high schools, teaching a class ("Oral Communication") to 10th graders with little to no experience speaking English. At one high school, his students are university-bound with an "encyclopedic" understanding of English grammar; at the other, they know very little about the language. The difference in comprehension can be daunting: "In a given week," he describes, "I am by turns a fully-fledged teacher expected to design lesson plans around the intricacies of native English speech, and a glorified human tape recorder expected to entertain students with my 'foreignness.'" Yet the community spirit he witnessed after the quake and tsunami inspired him, and he plans to continue in the JET program, his teaching augmented with such activities as running an English club and helping a student prepare for a national English speech contest. Meanwhile, the ground shakes: amid the aftershocks was a magnitude 7 that knocked him out of bed. His thoughts are for those who have lost everything and still must stand on unsteady ground "constantly reminded of the cause of their misfortune."

Farah in Washington Post

Somali novelist and playwright Nuruddin Farah, who the Department of English is hosting during his three years as CLA Winton Chair, published an article in the July 29 Washington Post about the famine crisis in Somalia.

Undergrad Launches Web Comic

Image of Exemplars! coverEnglish major and writer Jenna Mackrell is collaborating with the artist Carl Nelson on a new webcomic, exemplars! The site launched with four pages on July 14; Mackrell hopes to add a page a week. The story starts with a motorcycle and car chase through an unknown city . . . .

Minnesota Daily Hiring Writers

The Daily is the student-run newspaper of the University of Minnesota. The Daily needs students interested in news, sports, opinion and arts and entertainment writing, photography, video, copy editing, and design. Non-journalism majors are encouraged. Fall positions will be open Aug. 1-15. Apply at mndaily.com/jobs and include any writing samples you may have. Questions? Contact Taryn Wobbema, editor in chief: twobbema@mndaily.com.

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