Puget Sound English Department

January 29, 2009

Blues, Rhythm & Blues, and Funk in February

Filed under: Events on Campus — O. @ 12:19 am

electric-guitar-365-2-703153The band Hybrid will perform blues, R&B, and funk on February 13 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. in the Rotunda of Wheelock Student Center, and the performance is free.

The concert will serve as a kind of performed historical overview of three influential forms of African American popular music. Hybrid’s performance is one of several events planned to help celebrate Black History Month.

The concert is sponsored by the African American Studies Program, the Chief Diversity Officer, the Dolliver NEH Professorship, and the Black Student Union.

So mark your calendars, and get ready for some great music.

January 28, 2009

John Updike

Filed under: Creative Writing,Literature — O. @ 11:02 pm

updikeAs you no doubt already know, John Updike, one of America’s most prolific and respected novelists, died yesterday at age 76 of lung cancer.  Updike’s numerous novels often concern aspects of suburban and small-town life in the U.S., and he may be known best for the series of novels that features the character Rabbit Angstrom. Updike published several short-story collections, wrote a vast number of book reviews and essays (many for The New Yorker), and published at least one book of poetry, Midpoint.  His most famous and most often anthologized short story is probably “A&P.”

Here is a link to the BBC’s online obituary:


SIMON, the electronic catalogue for Collins Library, lists 36 titles by Updike in its collection:


January 26, 2009

First Open-Mic Night; New Poe-Related Book

An email from Allegra announces that “this semester’s first open mic is this Wednesday night in the SUB piano lounge! Sign-ups at 6:30, performances at 7:00.”   That’s the SUB piano-lounge on the 28th.
As we move ever closer to SymPOEsium, we note that Ben Nuckols wrote a nice essay for the Associated Press about Poe, his writings, and his influence–including the impact Poe’s work has had on cinema. Nuckols mentions that a new movie based loosely on “The Tell-Tale Heart” is about to be released; the lead-actor is Josh Lucas. Nuckols’ essay appears in The Tacoma News Tribune’s most recent Sunday supplement, Soundlife, and is also available online.
Below Nuckols’ article in Soundlife appears a review of In the Shadow of the Master, a new selected edition of Poe’s works, along with essays from contemporary writers about their favorite works by Poe, his influence on them, and so on. The publisher is William Morrow.microphonemicrophone1




January 24, 2009

Writers’ Guild Announces Interest-Meeting

fountainpenThe UPS Writers’ Guild is a group of writers on campus that meet weekly to read and critique each other’s work.  Whether you’re an experienced writer or just want more feedback on your work, the Guild can help you meet other writers and form a community where you feel comfortable sharing your work.  We have a number of weekly writing groups as well as monthly Spontaneous writing sessions, so there’s something for everyone, whether you want to make a commitment to a weekly group or are only able to be involved on a more occasional basis.

Brianna Richardson, President of the UPS Writers’ Guild, has sent along the following news:

“Our spring semester interest meeting will be Monday, Feb. 2nd at 7 PM in the Cellar.  We’ll be forming writing groups and talking about some of our upcoming events.  All writers of prose, poetry, or plays are encouraged to attend!

Feel free to email me at brichardson@ups.edu if you can’t make it to the interest meeting and still want to be part of a writing group or otherwise involved in the Guild.”

Brianna Richardson, President


January 23, 2009

Edgar is Almost Here, and He’s Bringing Cash

The last home in which Poe lived--in Richmond, Virginia

The last home in which Poe lived--in Richmond, Virginia

The organizers of SymPOEsyium, the multifaceted celebration of Edgar Allan Poe’s 200th birthday, his writing, and his influence want you know that the festivities are about to begin. In fact, some of them have already begun, and there’s cash involved.  Specifically, there is a “Bad Poe” contest for those of you interested in writing a good parody of Poe’s writing. The word-limit is 350, the deadline is February 6, and the cash-prizes are $250 (first prize), $150 (second prize) and $100 (third prize).  The sumissions must include the words “raven,” “mustachioed,” and “buried alive.” Submit your “Bad Poe” to POE@UPS.EDU.

For more information about all the events and activities planned, please go to this site: http://www2.ups.edu/SymPOEsium/

You may also contact the organizers, Professors Alison Tracy Hale, Tiffany Aldrich MacBain, and Mita Mahato in the English Department.

SymPOEsyium officially runs from February 16 through February 20, includes lectures, discussions, and film-screenings, and features a lecture by Present Ron Thomas on Tuesday, February 17, at 7:30, in the Rotunda of Wheelock Center. The title of President Thomas’s lecture is “Detecting Poe.”  Be on the lookout for Auguste Dupin.

Fine Arts Work Center Provincetown

Filed under: Activities off Campus,Creative Writing,Publishing — upsenglish @ 9:36 pm

sum09Attention all creative types!!

Have you heard of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA?  It’s a beautiful town located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod.  They offer summer workshops for fiction writers, poets, and playwrights as well as visual artists.  Some workshops last an entire week while others are just a weekend, and they go from June through August.  They also offer scholarships.  The deadlines aren’t until April, but you may want to begin thinking about your creative sample now.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to work on your craft, meet some other young writers, as well as rub shoulders with the literary elite.  Workshop instructors include Rafael Campo, Jayne Anne Philips, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Carl Phillips, and Maxine Kumin.

Derek Walcott is 79

Filed under: Activities off Campus,Creative Writing,Literature — O. @ 8:33 pm
Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott

Thanks to a blog called Poefrika, we’re reminded that Caribbean poet Derek Walcott has just turned 79, so Happy Birthday to him. Walcott is a native of the island St. Lucia. His books include Omeros, The Arkansas Testament, Prodigal, Selected Poems, and Collected Poems.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Thanks to Poefrika, too, for the loan of the photo.

January 21, 2009

Elizabeth Alexander-Inaugural Poet

Filed under: Creative Writing — upsenglish @ 12:24 am

elizabeth-alexanderToday, I watched with great anticipation as Elizabeth Alexander–poet, professor at Yale University, Pulitzer Prize finalist–delivered the inaugural poem.  Her poem directly followed President Obama’s historic address, emphasizing the importance of transforming this moment into exalted language.

Here is a transcript of the poem (source: NY Times) for those of you who missed it:

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. (more…)

Text of President Obama’s Inaugural Address

PD*26374940For any interested students and teachers of writing, rhetoric, and/or literature, here is the text of President Obama’s inaugural address, courtesy of the Associated Press:

‘Time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit’

Text of President Barack Obama’s speech for his inauguration as 44th president

Updated 10:17 a.m. PT, Tues., Jan. 20, 2009

WASHINGTON – My fellow citizens,

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them— that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence— the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive … that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet America.” In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

January 16, 2009

Alexie Will Meet With Students

Filed under: Creative Writing,Events on Campus,Literature — O. @ 12:36 am

As noted earlier on the blog, acclaimed writer Sherman Alexie will visit campus to give the Pierce lecture in February. In the works is a plan to have Alexie meet with interested students, probably on the afternoon of February 2. Please stay tuned for further details. shermanalexie2

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