English Department Hosts Reading by Kansas Poet Laureate
On Thursday, November 15, at 8:00 p.m., fiction writer Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg will give a reading in the Governor’s Room at the Student Center. Mirriam-Goldberg is the final speaker in the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series for the fall semester. A reception with plenty of good food will follow in the Heritage Room. The reading and reception are free and open to the public.
Mirriam-Goldberg is Kansas poet laureate (2009-2012) and is the author of "The Sky Begins at Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body." Her first novel, "Divorce Girl" tells the story of an imaginative, energetic teenager who has to deal with the divorce of her parents. The novel has won high praise. As one critic says, "Divorce Girl" is “wickedly, subversively funny . . . in its open-minded view of Jewish culture and knowledge of how children ultimately discover the stealth of their parents.”
The reading is sponsored by the PSU English Department and the Student Fee Council. For more information, contact the English Department at 4689.
A Night of Fear and Trembling: Phobias in Poetry and Music
Dr. Stacey Barelos, Assistant Professor of Music at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) and Dr. Christopher Anderson, Assistant Professor of English at Pittsburg State University (PSU), will present an event titled “A Night of Fear and Trembling: Phobias in Poetry and Music.” The event will be presented twice and free of charge at MSSU in Joplin, MO, on Thursday, October 25th, 7:30 p.m. in Corley Auditorium, and at PSU in Pittsburg, KS, on Tuesday, October 30th, 7:30 p.m. in McCray Hall. Featured will be music by Dr. Barelos, poetry by Dr. Anderson, and music and poetry by students from MSSU and PSU. Also featured will be Dr. Karen Kostan, Assistant Professor of Psychology at MSSU, who will give an introduction.
Dr. Barelos and Dr. Anderson met in 2011 after discovering through a mutual acquaintance that they both were working on projects inspired by various unusual phobias. They are both interested in collaborations that move across the usual boundaries between art forms, and they look forward to performing together as, just in time for Halloween they share their artistic impressions of fear. Barelos’s compositions for solo piano include “Syngenesophobia” (the fear of relatives) and “Lilapsophobia” (the fear of tornadoes), while Anderson will read poems such as “Hydrosiphobia, The Fear of Sweat” and “Haphephobia, The Fear of Being Touched.” Anderson says that, “In the phobia poems, I’m not necessarily trying to describe the phobia or depict a frightening event; instead, I try to use language and images that create an impression of the phobia and that ponder the nature of fear.” Barelos states, “Although dealing with a personal phobia can be a frightening experience, I also find a fair amount of humor in the multitude of documented phobias in the world. In these pieces I’m trying to have it both ways by representing both the serious and humorous sides of phobias.”
Christopher Anderson is Assistant Professor of English at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where he teaches American literature and creative writing. His interests include environmental literature and depictions of science and technology in literature and film, and he has published articles on images of garbage in contemporary American poetry and in the film WALL-E. His poetry has most recently appeared in the literary journals Tar River Poetry and River Styx.
Stacey Barelos is Assistant Professor of Music and Head of Piano Studies at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO. As a pianist, she specializes in the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, particularly the music of living composers. Regarding her first solo release, The Midwest American Piano Project, the American Record Guide said,” Stacey Barelos…plays with authority and poetic nuance, her beautiful tone captured vividly in this warm recording…” As a composer, Dr. Barelos’s works have been performed across the U.S. and in Europe and Australia.
English Department Hosts Short Story Writer and Novelist Kevin Brockmeier
On Thursday, October 11, at 8:00 p.m., in the Governors Room of the Overman Student Center, the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series welcomes novelist and short story writer Kevin Brockmeier to Pittsburg State University on Thursday, October 11. Brockmeier will read from his work at 8 p.m. in the Governors Room of the Overman Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Following the reading, there will be a reception in the Heritage Room of the student center, where Brockmeier’s books will be available for purchase.
The Distinguished Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by the PSU English Department and the Student Fee Council.
For further information on Brockmeier's reading, please contact Prof. Laura Washburn, 620-235-4643 or email@example.com.
Mark your Calendars for Two Upcoming Speakers
On Tuesday, September 25, at 8:00 p.m., in the Balkans Room of the Overman Student Center, The Distinguished Visiting Writers Series welcomes poet Allison Joseph to Pittsburg State University. Joseph will read from her work at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Joseph is the author of six collections of poetry, including What Keeps Us Here and My Father’s Kites. She is also poetry editor of the Crab Orchard Review, and Director of the MFA Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In 2012 she was awarded the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
Following the reading, there will be a reception in the Heritage Room of the student center, where Joseph’s books will be available for purchase.
The Distinguished Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by the PSU English Department and the Student Fee Council.
For further information on Joseph's reading, please contact Prof. Laura Washburn, 620-235-4643 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday, September 27, at 8:00 p.m., in the Governors Room of the Overman Student Center, Dr. Amy Fuqua, Professor of English at Black Hills State University, will deliver the Nineteenth Annual Emmett Memorial Lecture.
Dr. Fuqua’s topic will be "Reading Fiction and the Future of Democracy: Jane Austen and Toni Morrison.”
The lecture is free and open to all interested persons. A reception will follow in the Heritage Room.
The honor of delivering the Victor J. Emmett, Jr., Memorial Lecture goes to the winner of the Emmett Memorial Award, which is given each year to the author of the best essay on a literary topic published in The Midwest Quarterly, PSU’s scholarly journal.
The Emmett Memorial Award and Lecture are sponsored by the Emmett family, The Midwest Quarterly, and the English Department of Pittsburg State. The award is given in memory of the late Dr. Victor J. Emmett, Jr., who, before his death in 1990, was for twenty-three years a Professor of English at Pittsburg State, where he served at various times as Chairperson of the English Department, Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, and Editor-in-Chief of The Midwest Quarterly.
For further information on the Victor J. Emmett, Jr., Memorial Lecture, please contact Dr. Stephen Meats, 620-235-4935 or email@example.com.
Pictured above are Allison Joseph (l) and Amy Fuqua (r).
Writing for the Profession Students Write Proposals for Grant Funds as Service Learning Project
Members of Jamie McDaniel's Writing for the Profession class recently spoke with Becky Gray, PSU English Alumnus and Director of Research, Planning, and Grants Development for Southeast Kansas Community Action Agency (SEK-CAP), about grant and proposal writing.
As part of a service-learning component of the course, the students are completing a grant proposal in response to a SEK-CAP request for proposals. If SEK-CAP selects to fund their proposal, then the English Department will use the funds to purchase Adobe software that students will use for service learning projects. For example, students could create or revise documents for SEK-CAP in order to help the organization in their mission to fight poverty.
McDaniel says, "Whether students study literature, creative writing, rhetoric / composition, or technical / professional writing, the art of grant writing is an important skill. The students can now write proposals to fund a research proposal, to finance the writing of a novel, or to pay for further graduate study."
Pictured from left to right are Jean Lozano-Pittsley, Becky Gray, Leslie Bowman, Carla Chadd, Robin Pettibon, Michelle Gorges, Taylor Longnecker, and Kylie Klenke.
The English Department and The Midwest Quarterly at Pittsburg State University are happy to announce that Janice Law Trecker, mystery writer and recently retired lecturer in English at the University of Connecticut, will deliver the 18th Annual Victor J. Emmett Memorial Lecture on September 29, at 8 pm, in 409 Russ Hall on the Pittsburg State University campus. The subject of her lecture will be 19th century mad scientists and the monsters they created and will deal with Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Dracula, and other novels. The lecture is free and open to the public
Ms. Trecker was invited to deliver the Emmett Memorial Lecture as the winner of the Victor J. Emmett, Jr., Memorial Award which is given each year to the author of the best essay on a literary topic published in The Midwest Quarterly. Her essay, "The Ecstatic Epistemology of Song of Myself," will appear in the Autumn 2011 issue of The Midwest Quarterly.
Each year in September, the winner of the Victor J. Emmett Memorial Prize for the best essay on a literary topic submitted to The Midwest Quarterly is invited to Pittsburg State to receive the Emmett Prize and to deliver a scholarly lecture. The award is given in memory of the late Dr. Victor J. Emmett, Jr., who, before his death in 1990, was for twenty-three years a Professor of English at Pittsburg State. He also served as editor-in-chief of MQ from 1976-1981. The award is sponsored by the Emmett family, The Midwest Quarterly, and the English Department of Pittsburg State.
For additional information, please contact Dr. Stephen Meats, Professor of English, Pittsburg State University, at 620-235-4935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about Ms. Trecker, particularly about the mystery novels and stories she has published, can be found at her web site, www.janicelaw.com.
English Student Readings
Come and see what's brewing in the creative writing program at Pittsburg State University. Graduate students Daniele Cunningham, Sarah Lookadoo, Kris Stephens and Rachel White will present their creative writing to the public in two thesis defense sessions this week. The first defense will be held in Grubbs' Lecture Hall Room 109 April 19th at 3:30 p.m. where fiction students Sarah Lookadoo and Kris Stephens will read from their works and answer questions about their creative process and their thesis work. The second defense will be held in the Special Collections room of Axe Library on Thursday, April 21st at 4:15 p.m. where poetry students Daniele Cunningham and Rachel White will read their poetry and answer questions. Both events are open to the public.
"We're really excited to get a chance to showcase these students. They've all worked hard to write stories, poems, or personal essays. These are going to be truly entertaining events," Laura Lee Washburn, Professor of English, poet, and Creative Writing Director said.
Sarah Lookadoo is the first in the PSU Creative Writing program to write a novella as her thesis and will read a selection from it. Previous fiction theses have been collected short stories.
"I started writing fiction when I was nine. The first thing I ever wrote was a novel. I wrote the novella, Ships in the Desert, instead of a short story collection because the complexities of my plot and character development really needed length. I'm very lucky to be in this program because the faculty encourages you to write at your best," Lookadoo says.
Kris Stephens will be reading "Where Will You Be When the Spring Comes," one of her two short stories from the collection Build or Go Home, and Other Short Stories. "Where Will You Be When The Spring Comes" features Roy, a young widower who has moved to Wichita during the late 1800s who becomes addicted to visiting brothels. He uses his experiences there to recreate the life he had while his wife was still alive.
Daniele Cunningham will be reading a selection of poems from her thesis Walking the Flint Hills. These are Kansas poems populated by deer, possum, turkey vultures, and patchwork roads that serve as ways to move people along the paths of life, barriers between people and the nature they're a part of, and methods of considering time or place.
"Poetry interests me because it gives me a vehicle to understand what I think about things. Metaphor and image put faces and personalities to those things that don't really have something people can touch. I can have a relationship between I-70 and camels tell me what it means to have an urban existence," Cunningham said.
"I look forward to reading with Daniele Cunningham, whose writing is layered, smart, and really fun to hear," says fellow reader Rachel White.
Rachel White will read both poetry and essays from her multi-genre thesis Plucked.
"Swine, morbidity, and the human body are common themes in my writing," says White, "and I come by these themes almost fatefully, sharing a common ancestor with E.B. White, the author of Charlotte's Web, the famed children's story about a pig." The ancestor of note, Josiah White, was a traitor during the American Revolution, and according to historical records of Monmouth, NJ, he drowned while rowing a boat full of stolen hams to British ships. "It's true," Rachel says, as she points to the book, "between too heavy a load and a rough surf, he went to the bottom with his boat." After Josiah White drowned, his son was tarred and feathered. "Miraculously, he survived. But guess where he moved to recover? Hogpond Neck. It's fate," she says, "so of course my dad had to raise pigs, and I had to write about them. My thesis isn't only about pigs, but they're in it, as inescapable as the smell of actual hogs. Early on, my committee members ruled out any possibility having my work be a scratch-n-sniff affair. And I didn't push the issue. My thesis chair, Laura Lee Washburn and my departmental committee member, Dr. Chris Anderson, really put of with a lot of grief from me, and I'm so grateful to them. Without their guidance, my thesis would be a wreck. They helped me turn my mess of work into a thesis I'm proud of."
Sarah Lookadoo's work Ships in the Desert, takes place on the fringe of the Australian Outback in 1951 and focuses on the story of Caroline Hunter, a 15 year-old who struggles to come to terms with her father marrying again six years after the death of his first wife. Lookadoo utilized her dual Bachelor's of Arts degree in English and History for researching the aspects of life on a sheep station and the Post World War II climate in Australia.
Lookadoo's thesis was directed and mentored under Assistant Professor, Karen Stolz, the award winning author of World of Pies and Fanny and Sue.
"Sarah's novella explores a family's reconfiguration in ways that are rich and revealing. She writes with humor and empathy for our failings and our efforts to care for each other," said Stolz.
Lookadoo has won several academic achievement awards, graduated with honors, and is published twice in Cow Creek Review literary magazine, both times as an award winner. She expects to graduate with her Master's degree in Creative Writing in December 2011.
A graduate from Pittsburg State University, Stephens used her dual Bachelor's of Arts degree in History and English to research the historical elements in both of her short stories. She has earned several departmental scholarships and right now works as a Graduate Assistant in the English Department.
"I began writing short stories when I was in middle school when my friends and I had an excess of imagination, and decided we were aliens. I remember thinking 'hey, that would make a pretty cool book.' Since then, my writing has evolved into something a bit more professional. I really enjoyed working on this project here. Some parts were a lot more difficult, and took a lot of revision, but in the end it came out the way I wanted it. Working with all of the talented professors here has really helped me to improve," Stephens said.
She was mentored by Dr. Kathy DeGrave, the author of Swindler, Rebel and Spy, and Company Woman, as well as many other works of fiction and rhetoric.
"Kris has a unique view of the world and creates characters who are lively and fresh. She is especially interested in exploring the complexities of love relationships that are not typical but are true. Part of the power of her work is the humor that underlies the honesty and makes us nod our heads and laugh as we see hidden parts of ourselves played out on the page," DeGrave said. Stephens plans to graduate with her Master's degree in May, 2011.
Cunningham has won several awards for her poetry and short fiction. She's been most recently published in Cow Creek Review and Symphony at Sunset program. She has earned several scholarships and she is a member of academic honors societies in English, Math, and Sociology. She has earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Bachelor of Arts in English. "Sociology has taught me how to think about things; English has taught me how to say those things," she says. "One is full of theory, or the abstract, one is full of the concrete, and the two blend together." This blending is reflected in her poetry: "A house slips through time/to the ground, where it melts into dirt/and grass-shrouded deer bed."
She is currently a graduate teaching assistant with the English department, and she expects to graduate in July of 2011 with a Master of Arts in English.
Rachel White is originally from Galesburg, KS, and currently teaches for Labette Community College. After receiving her B.A. in English from the University of Kansas, she worked in the IT industry for several years before moving to Pittsburg to attend PSU and pursue her M.A. in English, with an emphasis on Creative Writing and Poetry.