Monday, October 15, 2007

Spring/Summer Achievement Summary

Thanks to Arnie Johnston, we can publish the following achievements by departmental students and faculty from this year's spring semester and summer:

Daneen Wardrop has won the Gerald Cable Book Award from Silverfish Review Press for her poetry collection, The Odds of Being.

Stuart Dybek has been chosen to receive The Mark Twain Award in 2007 for “distinguished contributions to Midwestern literature” from the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature at Michigan State University.

MFA student in poetry, Kim Kolbe, has a poem currently online at AGNI:

Steve Feffer has won one of this year’s New Jewish Theatre Commissions awarded by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Jewish Endowment for the Humanities. The grant will allow Steve to continue his work with a sponsoring theatre—in this case, the Whole Art—on Ain’t Got No Home, his new play based on Chicago’s legendary Chess Records.

Arnie Johnston’s short play, Roulette, was a Finalist for Wilkes University’s (Wilkes-Barre, PA) 2007 John C. Gardner Prize for the Two-Minute Play. Arnie and wife Debby Percy have adapted their short play But If It Rage into a screenplay that will be filmed this summer in Los Angeles by IntroSpec Pictures under the direction of Greg Siers.

Part-time colleague Linda Dick has written five biographies of literary characters--White Fang, Billie Joe (Out of the Dust), Jonas (The Giver), Cat in the Hat, and Summer (Missing May)--for the forthcoming Student Companion to American Literary Criticism.

Undergrad major Theresa Thomas has received a Dean’s Summer Thesis Research Award of $2,500 from the Lee Honors College. Theresa’s work will be supervised by faculty mentor Lisa Minnick.

Doctoral candidate Ron Riekki received a contract from Ghost Road Press to publish his novel U.P. in fall 2008. In the acceptance note, Matt Davis of Ghost Road Press wrote, “I am just going to start this off by saying that I love your book. Hollow, Craig, J, and Antony are so compelling and their voices are so real that I found myself re-reading chapters and sections just to experience their words again. I think this is the perfect book for Ghost Road Press and would like to offer you a contract to publish if the ms is still available. Please let me know...if it is I will draft an offer and send it to you as soon as I hear back. The book would be set to come out for Fall 2008.” I’m going over the contract right now and may ask (beg) for some changes based especially off of some minor points (that may be major) that Robert Eversz passed on to me. U.P. was previously nominated for the Sewanee Writers’ Series by National Book Award winner John Casey and it actually won, set to be published with Overlook Press (a subsidiary division of Penguin Putnam), but they pulled out last minute, so it is great that I have found another publisher for the book at this time. You can also add to the Bulletin that I just worked for VH1’s I Love New York 2. (I Love New York set the record for highest Nielsen rating in the history of VH1.) And also I’m going into a studio in Detroit on June 1 as a comedy writer with five other comedy writers from Chicago to write Second City style sketches for the next album to be released by the Artfull Dodgers. (Gozza from the Artfull Dodgers appeared on VH1’s egotrip’s “The (White) Rapper Show.” I’m talking with VH1 about working for them in L.A. for the remainder of the summer and I fly out on Wednesday for a job interview with a Florida college, so a ton going on. Oh, and Abstraction Theatre is doing a staged reading and production of Good Behavior. Ron :)

Jon Adams has received official word from the University of Virginia Press that his book has been accepted for publication and is scheduled for a Fall 2008 release. The MS is currently with UVA’s ‘cultural studies’ series editor (Robert Newman, dean of Humanities at the University of Utah), as it will likely be included in that series. The contract is forthcoming.

For the fourth consecutive summer, Western Michigan University’s Departments of Theatre and English collaborated to stage readings of a series of exciting new plays. This year’s New Play Project—under the guidance of Steve Feffer and Theatre Department colleague Mark Liermann—included fifteen student-written plays selected for development with a company of fourteen student actors, directors, and stage managers. The plays ran the theatrical gamut from an apocalyptic love story set beneath a clock that is either “counting down the end of the world or the time it takes to bake a potato”—to a parody of modern art centered on Duchamp’s “The Fountain.” The readings took place during May and June in the Zack L. York Arena Theatre in the Gilmore Theatre Complex. “The Fountain” by Alyse Castillo, “Deja Vu Goodbye” by Chris Bell, “After Wilson” by Mike Monje, “Everybody Gets Fifteen Minutes” by Max Clark, “Ham and Cheese Omelet” by Leah Okraszewski.

Janet Heller’s illustrated children's book, How the Moon Regained Her Shape, was selected as a Children's Choice of 2007. For the complete Western News story, go to And a short time later the Publishers Marketing Association chose How the Moon Regained Her Shape as the winner of the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award in the category of Interior Design, three or more colors—Children's/Young Adult. Janet’s article “The Nature of Learning in Garrison Keillor’s ‘Drowning 1954’ and ‘After a Fall’” was published in MidAmerica 32 (2005). She also made several presentations at the May 2007 Symposium on the Cultural Heritage of the Midwest at Michigan State University in East Lansing: “Letters Home from a Map-Maker for General Patton” (an analysis of her father's war letters and autobiography), “Rummage Sale” (a poetry reading), and “Returning to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin” (a creative nonfiction essay). Congratulations, Janet!

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