Helen Pinkerton & Herman Melville: Civil War Poems
Dr John Baxter
Professor Emeritus of English, Dalhousie University
Helen Pinkerton, known for her devotional poems and poems on works of art, is also an astute commentator on crucial aspects of the American Civil War and especially on maintaining perspective in the heat of intense political debate. In her recently published collected poems, A Journey of the Mind, she examines some of these topics through the eyes of Herman Melville, one of America’s greatest writers and himself a major Civil War poet, testifying first-hand to the causes and consequences of the conflict.
Sonya Larson’s short fiction and nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Best American Short Stories 2017, American Short Fiction, The American Literary Review, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Writer’s Chronicle, Audible.com, West Branch, Salamander, Memorious,Del Sol Review, The Red Mountain Review, and The Hub. She has received awards and honors from Best American Short Stories 2017 and 2015, Glimmer Train, Meridian, Salamander, the American Literary Review, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She is at work on a novel about a Chinese community living in rural Mississippi in the 1930s, which earned her an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation. This is Sonya’s second fellowship to attend VSC; in 2016, she was awarded the Grace Paley Fiction Fellowship.
The ALSCW is pleased to announce that Carolyn Jack is the winner of the 2016 Meringoff Prize in fiction. Ms. Jack’s “Success” is part of a novel in progress. The judges (John Burt and Lee Oser) call it “a brilliant portrait of a talented, observant, tart-tongued, young pianist from a Caribbean island whose cultivated, nearly deaf mother has determined that he will be a prodigy, and who is just at the point of leaving home to pursue study in the United States.” The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and publication in an upcoming issue of Literary Matters. Ms. Jack and the other Meringoff Prize winners have been invited to read at the 2017 annual conference of the ALSCW at the University of Dallas from October 26-29. For more information go to our website (ALSCW.org).
The ALSCW is pleased to announce that Chad Davidson is the winner of the 2016 Meringoff Prize for the essay. Professor Davidson’s “Not Being Original” is an exciting and penetrating exploration of contemporary American self-hood and its relationship to scenic (and tourist oriented) modern Italy. The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and publication in Literary Matters or Literary Imagination.
Chad Davidson is the author of From the Fire Hills (2014), The Last Predicta (2008), and Consolation Miracle (2003), all from Southern Illinois UP, as well as co-author with Gregory Fraser of the textbook Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). He is a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of West Georgia near Atlanta and co-directs Convivio, a summer writing conference in Umbria, Italy.
The ALSCW is pleased to announce the co-winners of the 2016 Meringoff Prize for Poetry: Gregory Fraser for “Nothing But a Few Bare Trees” and Matthew Buckley Smith for “Object Permanence.” The winning poems will be published in an upcoming issue of either Literary Matters or Literary Imagination, and the winners will each receive $1,000 and a commemorative plaque.
The ALSCW would also like to thank all the fine writers who participated and especially the judges, Jee Leong Koh and Robert B. Shaw. The winners of the other Meringoff Prizes will be announced in the coming weeks.
ALSCW member Jean Valentine is the winner of Yale’s 2017 Bollingen Prize for Poetry. Jean read her verse at the ALSCW local meeting in New York City on November 28, 2016, at Barnard University.
“Jean Valentine is fearless when moving into charged territory and in her work we find mystery and surprise in abundance,” said the three-member judging committee. “Without compromising substance or sacrificing a reckoning with painful reality, inequity, and loss, there is solace and spirituality, and she radiates responsibility as a voice of clarity and compassion.” The prize honors Valentine’s most recent book, Shirt in Heaven, published by Copper Canyon Press.
Poet and musician T.R. Hummer spoke on the making of High Minded (2010)–an album by his band, AmeriCamera, that fuses poetry and music–at an ALSCW local meeting in Washington DC on February 8th. Hummer’s multi-media presentation was attended by an audience of over one-hundred, and hosted by Catholic University. Hummer is the author of fourteen books of poetry, two books of criticism, and is the former editor of the Kenyon Review and the Georgia Review. An accomplished saxophonist, Hummer was a member of the blues group Little Ronnie and the Grand Dukes, playing on their album,Young and Evil,which was released by Planetary Records in 2001.
The ALSCW will be hosting a poetry reading on February 10th in Washington DC at the Catholic University of America. The event will feature Meena Alexander, Robin Becker, Michelle Boisseau, Marianne Boruch, Rosellen Brown, Heid Erdrich, Jan Freeman, Alice Friman, Allison Joseph, Thylias Moss, Alicia Ostriker, Rebecca Seiferle, Enid Shomer, Terese Svoboda, and Eleanor Wilner. Each poet will read one to two poems of her own, and one by a woman not present. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place in Caldwell Auditorium from 6 to 7:15 pm. A reception will follow.
Longtime member Kelly Cherry, who enjoyed a distinguished career teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been given a Lifetime Achievement Award from her alma mater, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Younger member Ryan Wilson, who is the ALSCW Office Manager and a graduate student at Catholic University, has won the Donald Justice Poetry Prize from the West Chester University Poetry Center. The prize includes a cash stipend and book publication of his manuscript.
A version of the seminar paper—“Correspondences: Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal and the Translation Tasks of Richard Howard and Walter Benjamin”– Mary Maxell gave at the 2016 annual conference will be published in the Yale Review.
Jean Valentine read at the ALSCW local meeting in New York City just now, on November 28, 2016, at Barnard, in an evening graciously co-sponsored by Saskia Hamilton and the program Women Poets at Barnard. The audience filled the handsome Sulzberger Parlor where, as Valentine noted, the portraits of earlier presidents of Barnard, thoughtful, formidable women, seemed also to be listening. Valentine read from her two most recent books, Break the Glass (2010) and Shirt in Heaven (2015), followed by new poems of quiet force and mystery.