SHREVEPORT, LA -- MacArthur Fellow and poet Eleanor Wilner will receive the 10th annual John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence and read from her work at Centenary College on Monday, February 7. The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. in the South Dining Hall, Bynum Commons, on the Centenary campus.
Sponsored by the Student Government Association and the English Department, the event is free and open to the public.
Wilner is the author of five volumes of poetry, including Otherwise (1993) and Sarah's Choice (1989). Her most recent book is Reversing the Spell: New and Selected Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press in 1998. Individual poems have appeared in such national periodicals as The American Poetry Review (which she edited from 1975-1978), The New Republic, The New Yorker, and the Southern Review.
Florence Howe observes in her review of Reversing the Spell that Wilner's poems "speak of danger, terror, mystery. She uses bits of narrative, edges of epics, imagined new endings of familiar stories," whether from classical mythology or biblical tradition. As a woman, Wilner "gives voice to characters often invisible in history." Such characters include Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero Odysseus; Miriam, the sister of Moses; and Sarah, the mother of Isaac.
Wilner's many awards include a so-called "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1991-1996), the Pushcart Prize (1996), and the Juniper Prize (1979).
Born in 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio, Wilner was educated at Goucher College in Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, from which she obtained an interdepartmental Ph.D. in literature, anthropology, and psychology in 1972.
A resident of Philadelphia, Wilner has taught since 1989 in the "low residency" Master of Fine Arts Degree Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C. She was the Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Hawaii in 1993. She lived for two years (1984-1986) in Tokyo, where she was on the faculty at Temple University Japan. Wilner will be teaching as Visiting Professor and Sherry Poet at the University of Chicago in the spring. She will be a visiting poet at Smith College in 2000-2001.
Previous recipients of Centenary's Corrington Award have been Eudora Welty, Ernest J. Gaines, James Dickey, Miller Williams, Lee Smith, Paul Auster, Elizabeth Spencer, Anthony Hecht, and Richard Wilbur.
The Corrington Award is named for the Centenary alumnus and author of the novella "Decoration Day" (published in All My Trials by the University of Arkansas Press in 1987), who died in 1988. The award takes the form of a bronze medal designed by the internationally acclaimed Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell.
A unique feature of the award is that work by the recipient serves as a text in all first-year English classes at Centenary. This semester, students are reading Wilner's Reversing the Spell: New and Selected Poems.
For further information, contact Dr. David Havird, Centenary Department of English, at 318-869-5085 or 869-5254.
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