Single Voice Reading Series Welcomes Authors James Davis May, Chelsea Rathburn

Allegheny alumnus James Davis May and Chelsea Rathburn will read from their work as part of the College’s Single Voice Reading Series at 7 p.m. November 30 in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Author James Davis May.

May’s first book, “Unquiet Things,” was published in 2016. Other poems have appeared in Five Points, The Missouri Review, New England Review, New Ohio Review, New Republic, and The Southern Review. In 2013, he won the Collins Award from Birmingham Poetry Review, and has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Inprint, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar. May, who graduated from Allegheny in 2004, is a professor of English and creative writing at Young Harris College.

Chelsea Rathburn was raised in Florida before earning her master’s of fine arts at the University of Arkansas. Her first full-length collection, “The Shifting Line,” won the 2005 Richard Wilbur Award, and in 2009 she received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, The Southern Review, New England Review, The Threepenny Review and Ploughshares. She is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Young Harris College.

For more information about the Single Voice Reading Series, contact Frederick F. Seely Professor of English Christopher Bakken at cbakken@allegheny.edu

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Single Voice Reading Series: Authors James Davis May, Chelsea Rathburn

Allegheny alumnus James Davis May and Chelsea Rathburn will read from their work as part of the College’s Single Voice Reading Series at 7 p.m. November 30 in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public.

May’s first book, “Unquiet Things,” was published in 2016. Other poems have appeared in Five Points, The Missouri Review, New England Review, New Ohio Review, New Republic, and The Southern Review. In 2013, he won the Collins Award from Birmingham Poetry Review, and has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Inprint, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar. May, who graduated from Allegheny in 2004, is a professor of English and creative writing at Young Harris College.

Chelsea Rathburn was raised in Florida before earning her master’s of fine arts at the University of Arkansas. Her first full-length collection, “The Shifting Line,” won the 2005 Richard Wilbur Award, and in 2009 she received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, The Southern Review, New England Review, The Threepenny Review and Ploughshares. She is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Young Harris College.

For more information about the Single Voice Reading Series, contact Frederick F. Seely Professor of English Christopher Bakken at cbakken@allegheny.edu

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

MacNeill Miller Essay Published

Assistant Professor of English John MacNeill Miller published an essay, “Composing Decomposition: ‘In Memoriam’ and the Ecocritical Undertaking” in a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Contexts comprising select papers presented at this year’s meeting of the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies association. The essay uses ‘In Memoriam,’ Alfred Tennyson’s poem about his best friend’s death, to examine how representations of decay affect our ability to think ecologically.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hart Presents Research on Women in the Military

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Alexis Hart presented some of her research on women in the military on the panel “Remembering Differently: Re-Figuring Women’s Rhetorical Work” at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference held in Dayton, Ohio, on October 4-7.

Hart and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Director of Speaking Jon Wiebel also presented a roundtable session titled “Collaboratively Fostering Student Voices in Writing and Speaking” at the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) conference held in Pittsburgh on October 20-21.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Two Allegheny Alumni Hold Prestigious Stegner Fellowships

Having one graduate serving as a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University is worth mentioning. But having two from Allegheny College holding those creative writing fellowships at the same time is cause for celebration.

Allegheny alumni Graham Barnhart ’07 and William Brewer ’11 both currently hold Stegner Fellowships, named for the late Wallace Stegner, founder of Stanford’s Creative Writing Program.

“Perhaps the most prestigious fellowship available to writers is the Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. These are very, very competitive, and the list of writers who have received them over the years reads like a who’s who of contemporary American literature,” says Christopher Bakken, Frederick F. Seeley Professor of English and English Department chair at Allegheny.

Brewer was awarded his fellowship in 2016 and is overlapping (the fellowships run for two years) with Barnhart, a 2017 recipient. “It’s simply astonishing that two Allegheny alums have won these and that they are there at the same moment,” says Bakken.

In awarding the fellowships, Stanford’s Creative Writing Program considers the quality of the candidate’s creative work, potential for growth and ability to contribute to and profit from the university’s writing workshops. Each year, five fellowships are awarded in fiction and five in poetry. The recipients receive modest living stipends, attend regular workshops and have access to the university’s resources.

Brewer visited his alma mater in October 2017 as part of the Single Voice Reading Series and was featured on a “PBS Newshour” segment that same month focusing on his book of poetry, I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017) about the opioid crisis gripping his native state of West Virginia.

As an undergraduate at Allegheny and later as a graduate student at Columbia University in New York City, Brewer said he “wanted to write about anything else” other than his home state. The opioid crisis, however, “was inescapable. Acquaintances were dying. My home was changing. It’s so bad now that the state has run out of money to help low-income families pay for funerals. I started to do some research — 780 million pills were consumed in 10 years in West Virginia. People who live there felt like they had no control over their lives, watching people they know become addicts.”

The book’s jacket describes Brewer’s poetry as “uncanny, heartbreaking, and often surreal. I Know Your Kind is an unforgettable elegy for the people and places that have been lost to opioids.”

Brewer’s previous chapbook, Oxyana, received a 2016 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. Brewer’s work has appeared in Boston Review, The Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Narrative, The Nation, A Public Space and other journals.

Brewer says he is currently working on another book of poetry and a novel. “If I’m not writing I get grumpy and sad,” he says. After finishing the fellowship, Brewer says he eventually would like to teach.

Barnhart, a native of Titusville, Pennsylvania, holds a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from The Ohio State University, and is a veteran of the U.S. Army. His work has received the 2016 Jeff Sharlett Memorial Award for Veterans and the 2015 Chad Walsh Poetry Prize, and his work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, The Iowa Review, The Sewanee Review, Waxwing and Prelude, among other publications.

“I’m working on a collection of poems that draw from my military experiences. After graduating from Allegheny, I joined the Army and became a Special Forces medic,” says Barnhart. “I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan then transferred to the Ohio National Guard in order to attend grad school at The Ohio State University. While there I deployed again to Afghanistan. I like to think of my poems as set in the context of war rather than simply being about war. I am interested in trying to reconcile what it means to be an artist and a soldier while trying to acknowledge and navigate the privilege that my position as a straight, white, American soldier affords me when it comes to writing about war.”

Barnhart said he, too, was deeply affected by the area in which he was born and raised. “Pittsburgh tends to get a mention here and there, but the whole region has been deeply influential to me, though not often explicitly in the work,” he says. “I think any kid from Titusville who happens to pass through the oil fields in Iraq would have to wonder at the strange trajectory that brought us from Colonel Edwin L. Drake (America’s first successful oil driller) to the present. I wouldn’t be writing any of these poems if I hadn’t been lucky enough to grow up and go to school where I did.”

Barnhart and Brewer meet regularly in the Stegner workshops at Stanford.

“Will’s great. I’ve been admiring his work for a long time,” says Barnhart. “I Know Your Kind is a beautiful book and difficult in the very best sense, so I was really excited to get to work with him. He just gave a Single Voice reading, and we were talking about what a landmark personal experience that is for any writer who studied at Allegheny. Along with the mentorship of professors like Dr. Bakken and Dr. (James) Bulman, the Single Voice series can be entirely blamed for my having ended up a poet, and I think Will feels the same way.”

Photos: Top Image–William Brewer; Inset — Graham Barnhart

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Senior Hernstrom-Hill Wins Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize

Allegheny College senior Madeline Hernstrom-Hill has won the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize for her short story “The Church of the Reformed Eden.”

The prize, awarded to an outstanding undergraduate author, includes a $1,000 prize, a full scholarship to the Southampton Writers Conference in July 2018 and consideration for publication in The Southampton Review.

Judge Amy Hempel, author of six acclaimed books of short fiction, selected Hernstrom-Hill’s story from more than 200 entries.

“This story features a remarkably complex, compelling, and humane look at some of the most important issues of the day: immigration, religious extremism, our destruction of the planet, same-sex partners, for example,” Hempel wrote in praise. “But there is never an agenda, rather they appear as part of a decent woman’s experience, a woman who is making her way in Florida to support her family in the Dominican Republic. In strong, assured prose, the author shows us what it is to try to navigate this difficult terrain while protecting one’s sense of oneself and staying open to possibilities that appear in truly surprising forms.”

Hernstrom-Hill, a double major in history and English with an emphasis in creative writing, wrote and revised “The Church of the Reformed Eden” as part of a combined senior comprehensive project and independent study group mentored by Matthew Ferrence, associate professor of creative writing. She described the work as speculative fiction.

“A woman immigrates to St. Augustine, Florida, from the Dominican Republic and accidentally falls in love with a female priest whose religion is on the wacky side,” said Hernstrom-Hill, 21, of Boston. “Everything spirals from there.”

The prize and Hemphill’s praise are validating, she said.

“My great fear, and the fear of a lot of undergraduate writers, is we write as undergraduates and we don’t actually go on and get into this community of people who write (beyond college) and are able to make a career out of writing,” Hernstrom-Hill said. “It’s super validating to have someone in that circle say nice things about my writing. It makes me feel happy about my possibilities after graduation.”

The 12-day conference, her first, is a chance to improve her writing and “see writers who are outside of college and be able to speak to people in the field and get a feel for how you actually do this,” she said.

Hernstrom-Hill credited Allegheny’s creative writing program for giving her the confidence to submit the story for consideration.

“I wouldn’t have produced this without being part of this supportive, very passionate creative writing community,” she said.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hernstrom-Hill Awarded Short Fiction Prize

Madeline Hernstrom-Hill ’18 was awarded the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize for her short story “The Church of the Reformed Eden.” The prize includes a scholarship to the Southampton Writers Conference in July.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hart Delivers Keynote

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Alexis Hart presented the keynote address, “Not Just a ‘Necessary Evil’: Reframing Assessment as Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship,” at SUNY Geneseo’s ASSESStivus on September 13.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hart, Thomas Selected for Writing Workshop

Peer writing consultants Hannah Hart ’19 and Vanessa Thomas ’19 were competitively selected to participate in the Naylor Workshop for Undergraduate Research in Writing Studies held at York College of Pennsylvania on September 15-17. The two consultants presented their research proposals, “Effective Tutoring Methods and the Writing Process of Dyslexic Students” (Hart) and “Social Media and Writing Center Promotion” (Thomas), and received feedback on their projects from faculty mentors in the field of writing studies, including Allegheny’s Director of Writing, Professor Alexis Hart.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Miller Publishes Article Exploring Animal Melodrama

Assistant Professor of English John MacNeill Miller published an article in PMLA: Proceedings of the Modern Language Association title “When Drama Went to the Dogs; or, Staging Otherness in the Animal Melodrama.” The article explores the nature and significance of animal melodrama — a wildly popular, but now forgotten form of nineteenth-century theater that included live dogs, horses, and elephants onstage. Miller also workshopped a paper, “The Nature of Political Economy,” at the second meeting of the Vcologies working group in Houston, Texas on September 15-16.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research