Department of English faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences have been honored with various prestigious creative and scholarly accolades in 2008, including a pair of Guggenheim Fellowships, the Bobbitt national poetry prize, a Myers book award, an NAACP Image Award, and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships.
Additionally, department faculty had three literary pieces published in The New Yorker, earned an esteemed Leverhulme professorship and were recognized for groundbreaking watermark research.
Bob Hicok and Paul Sorrentino were both awarded prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships, which are appointed on the basis of stellar achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment.
Sorrentino earned a Guggenheim for his work on the life of author Stephen Crane. After unearthing lost Crane papers in Hawaii, Sorrentino received the Stephen Crane Literary Award in 1984 for his extensive research. Coeditor of The Correspondence of Stephen Crane and co-author of The Crane Log: A Documentary Life of Stephen Crane 1871-1900, Sorrentino is working on Crane’s biography.
Hicok, awarded the Guggenheim for poetry, just collected his second National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He also garnered the 2008 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry for his most recent collection of poems, This Clumsy Living. Awarded through the Library of Congress, this unique prize recognizes the most distinguished book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years.
Hicok was recently selected for The Best American Poetry 2009, a prestigious annual anthology of poetry. Poems for inclusion are selected by judges who typically have won the Pulitzer Prize. The odds of being selected for Best American Poetry even once in a career are small. This was Hicok's fifth appearance. He will also appear in the 2009 Pushcart anthology, representing small presses.
Ed Falco, director of the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, received a $25,000 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to work on his fourth collection of short stories. Entitled Burn, the collection will include stories that, although published in journals, have yet to be compiled in a book. The NEA Fellowship encourages the production of new work by affording the recipients the time and means to write. Since 1990, 52 of the 84 recipients of the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and Fiction have received Literature Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, often 10 to 20 years earlier.
Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor of English, received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation and the Chicago Public Library – the first poet to earn the honor. Giovanni also received her fourth NAACP Image Award last year as well as the Black Enterprise magazine Women of Power Legacy Award.Giovanni’s Hip Hop Speaks to Children has danced in the New York Times Bestseller lists since its release in October.
Steven Salaita received the Myers Outstanding Book Award for Anti-Arab Racism in the USA, selected by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights to recognize the work’s ''understanding of the root causes of bigotry and the range of options we as humans have in constructing alternative ways to share power.''
The Center for Applied Technologies in the Humanities (CATH) in the Department of English was recognized for its work in an article in the July/August 2008 issue of Fine Books and Collections. Titled ''Whale Hunting: Taking watermarks online,'' the article draws attention to the Virginia Tech Gravell Watermark Archive, an online resource developed through the CATH in partnership with the American watermark expert Thomas L. Gravell and the University of Delaware library. Department of English faculty Daniel Mosser, David Radcliffe, and Ernest Sullivan were instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.
Recognized at home and abroad, Mosser spent fall semester as the Leverhulme Visiting Professor at The University of York in the United Kingdom. Mosser, known for his work in paleography (the study of ''old writing'') and codicology (the study of the codex, or manuscript book), taught and conducted research in the university’s Centre for Medieval Studies.
Although a relative newcomer to the world of master of fine arts degrees in creative writing, Virginia Tech's program has earned a top-15 placement in poetry and a top-40 overall ranking, according to Poets & Writers magazine.
Additionally, several poems written by faculty members were published in The New Yorker in 2008.
Weston Cutter, a third-year master of fine arts student, has been included in Best New Poets 2008: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers, a collection edited by Mark Strand. Cutter's poem, "You Could Call It a Shift," emerged as one of the 50 winners from nearly 1,300 submissions.
Undergraduate students at Virginia Tech are invited to submit a poem about the future to compete for “The Steger,” an award established by the university’s president, Charles W. Steger. The $1,000 prize ranks among the highest in the nation for undergraduate poetry.
Look through previous Spotlight stories