Diaz book makes the small press bestseller list

You’ve no doubt heard of The New York Times Bestseller List, but there’s a list for small press releases as well, and Professor Joanne Diaz‘ first book of poetry, The Lessons (Silverfish Review Press), is #5 on the Poetry Foundation list of February Best Sellers.

Joanne has a busy weekend promoting the book. Tonight–Friday, March 25, she’s featured with Elise Paschen in Evanston, Ill. at a Rhino Reads! Open Mic, and on Sunday, March 27, she’s offering a writing workshop at the Evanston Public Library.

Alum wins writing contest

Joanna Frieda Mulder (’08) is having a good week. In addition to receiving honorable mention from a competition sponsored by Blue Mesa Review, she recently won the H.E. Francis Short Story Award, sponsored by the Ruth Hindman Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.  “I also received a personal note/rejection from The New Yorker, she writes. “All this has encouraged me to continue.” Ironically or prophetically, her winning story was titled “This Will Be Our Year.”

Mulder, who won the Nikki Kaye Pape President’s Club Award for Excellence in Writing her senior year at IWU, will finish her MFA this May at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where she works as managing editor for the national literary magazine Ecotone. Her honorable mention short story, “Gary, East Side, 1997,” is forthcoming in Issue #24 of Blue Mesa Review, which is published by students in the creative writing program at the University of New Mexico.

Students to present work at St. Francis conference

Two IWU students will share their work at the 20th Annual Undergraduate Conference on English Language and Literature, sponsored by the University of St. Francis in Joliet, March 18-19.

Nicole Travis (’11) will present “The Portrait of a King: Reconciling the Historic and Romance King Arthur,” and Christy Spees (’11) will present “Be a Man, Be a Woman, or Be Silent: Gender Identity in Le Roman de Silence.”

The conference draws participants from big schools (University of Chicago, Iowa State University) and small (Hope College, Eureka College), from the U.S. and Canada.

“Poems in Five Decades” reading on March 10

The English department is pleased to present “Poems in Five Decades: A Retrospective,” with James McGowan, Professor Emeritus of English, reading work published over a lifetime. The event is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, in the Turfler Room (second floor) of Memorial Center. It’s free and open to the public.

Later that evening, Professor David Vayo will perform musical compositions that were inspired by McGowan’s poetry at a New Music Cafe, 8:00 p.m. in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall. We’ll add details as we get them.

Professor McGowan taught in the English department from 1969-2000, and took students on travel courses to such places as Paris and Ireland to study and write poetry.

Delta lit-crit deadline extended

The Delta has decided to extend the deadline for submissions. Critical essays are now due by Sunday, Feb. 27, and if your paper is chosen you will see it in March, when the issue is published.

To submit an essay send as attachment to iwudelta@gmail.com. Submissions must have been written within the last year for an IWU class.

If you have questions, contact Christy Spees at iwudelta@gmail.com.

Campus awaits Jorie Graham

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham arrives tomorrow for a much-anticipated visit to Illinois Wesleyan. Many faculty and students have attended sessions on “How to Read a Jorie Graham Poem,” and so the Q&A session scheduled for tomorrow, February 22, at 4 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center should be a lively one. English professor Mike Theune will moderate, with questions also coming from the audience. The event is free and open to the public.

Graham, whose many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship and whose most recent book is Sea Change (2008), is the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. Her main presentation will be at the Founder’s Day Convocation, 11 a.m. on Wednesday, February 23, in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall. That event is also free and open to the public.

March 4 deadline announced for IWU fiction/poetry contests

Illinois Wesleyan University student poets and fiction writers are invited to enter annual competitions for the Academy of American Poets University Prize and the Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction. The prizes, administered by the English department, are open to all currently enrolled students. In previous years, non-English majors and minors have won frequently. Students may submit only one entry to each competition. All entries should be submitted to Julie Lappin, English department office coordinator, in the English department’s main office (first floor, English House) by 4 p.m., Friday, March 4.

To enter the Academy of American Poets’ Prize, students should submit 4-6 poems, single-spaced, with the total length not to exceed 12 pages.

To compete for the Babbitt’s Prize, students should submit up to 18 double-spaced pages of fiction—either a single short story or a segment from a novel that can stand alone. Any style is acceptable—even genre, if it breaks the mold—but judges will be looking for literary quality, energy, innovation, interesting plots, memorable characters, dialogue that rings true, fresh language, and a sure voice.

Founded in 1955, the Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize program has launched the careers of many promising poets, including Sylvia Plath, Tess Gallagher, Mark Strand, and Joy Harjo. The winner from each school receives $100 and a certificate, and is announced in the Academy of American Poets’ publications and news releases, with a chance for publication in a future anthology.

The Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction (formerly the Clockwatch Review Prize for Short Fiction) began in 1997 as a way to promote and encourage aspiring fiction writers at IWU. The winner receives $50 cash and $50 store credit from Babbitt’s Books, downtown Normal.

Members of the English department faculty will serve as preliminary judges, with five manuscripts for each competition passed on to a final off-campus judge who’s an accomplished, published writer.

Argus staffers travel to Chicago, accept ICPA awards

On February 18-19, Argus staffers traveled to Chicago for the annual Illinois College Press Association convention—two days of sessions on layout and design, reviewing, reporting, photography, and legal issues, all presented by professionals working for Chicago-area newspapers.

Keynote speaker Ellen Warren, senior correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, encouraged students to speak up and tell people what they want. And if the answer is no, respond with “Well, what do I have to do to make it happen?” Warren, who has covered the White House and every other beat for the Tribune, said that she became legendary columnist Mike Royko’s first female legman by being aggressive. She dropped her resume off on a Sunday, leaving it with the doorman and asking him to give it to the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. “I knew he’d be working. He’s a journalist,” she said.

At the awards banquet for college journalists and their advisers—this year representing 32 schools—The Argus was presented with six certificates and two plaques:

Honorable Mention-Editorial Cartoon—Brandon Dorn

Honorable Mention-Sports Feature—Max Brooks

3rd Place-Editorial—Eliiot Boden

2nd Place-Column, Excluding Sports—Dani Jauregui

2nd Place-News Photo—Rachel Rock

2nd Place-Other Cartoon, Strip or Panel—Sam Harris

1st Place-Other Cartoon, Strip or Panel—Kaz Frankiewicz

1st Place-Sports Column—Brett Luy

Congratulations to the winners and to the staff for all their hard work. Pictured are Hannah Griffin, Jackie Connelly, Nicole Travis, James Podrasky, and Eliot Boden.

Want to read for World Poetry Day?

Attention students and faculty: International Studies is seeking poems centered on the theme “Childhood and Globalization” for possible inclusion in this year’s World Poetry Day Reading, Tuesday, March 22, at 4 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center.

Poems may be self-written or the work of others, in English or in another language accompanied by an English translation. Email submissions to Regina Lensalata, rlinsala@iwu.edu. For questions or additional information, contact Prof. Sonja Fritzsche (sfritzsc@iwu.edu), Prof. Mike Theune (mtheune@iwu.edu), or Prof. Joanne Diaz (jdiaz@iwu.edu).