Alice McDermott, author of 1998s Charming Billy, paid
a visit to Emory last weekand it was one that a handful of
writing students will not soon forget.
The Long Island native played the role of Star Presenter in the
English and creative writing departments Awards Night, held
April 15 in Cannon Chapel. McDermott announced the names of and
handed certificates to the winners of 10 awards, from Best Undergraduate
Essay to Johnston Fellowships for Travel and Research. And the National
Book Award winner showed that she can write a little, too.
In an academic year that began as this one did, with an event
that changed everything, we celebrate not just the product but the
process of writing, said Lynna Williams, associate professor
and director of creative writing. Acknowledging the work of and
the future that lies ahead of Emorys young writers, Williams
recalled William Faulkner, who upon receiving the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1949, dedicated to the award to all the writers
who would come after him.
In Cannon Chapel, McDermott read from a novel in progress she said
will published later this year. The book, she said, is an exercise
for herself. Wouldnt it be fun to write a novel that
is not excerptible? she said. Thats really bad
for readings. The audience begged to differ, as McDermott
spent a half-hour reading from the novels beginning.
The next afternoon in the Woodruff Librarys Jones Room, McDermott
led a colloquium on writing, answering questions about the craft
in general and her own career in particular. I always think
I know what Im doing when I start, otherwise I wouldnt
have the courage to start, she said in response to whether
she prepares an outline before beginning to write a book. Almost
every time, though, the story changes. I like to make discoveries
myself. If you hold too tightly to your original story, you can
miss those moments [of discovery].
Speaking at McDermotts reading in Cannon Chapel, Joseph Skibell,
assistant professor of creative writing, said McDermott proves that
there is a certain deviousness to good writing.
Not only does she trick us into asking questions about her
characters, Skibell said, but she tricks us into asking
questions about ourselves.
The winners of this years English and creative writing awards
Best English Essay by an Undergraduate: Michael Peyton
Best English Essay by a Graduate Student: Allison
Academy of American Poets Prize for Best Poetry:
Neil Garvin. (Honorable mention to Kristi McKim)
Artistine Mann Award in Poetry: Tien Tran. (Honorable
mention to Neil Garvin)
Artistine Mann Award in Fiction: Carolyn Finch. (Honorable
mention to Katherine Duclos)
Artistine Mann Award in Drama: Lauren Gunderson.
(Honorable mention to Joseph Hicks)
Artistine Mann Award in Creative Nonfiction: Anton
Disclafani. (Honorable mention to Margarite Nathe)
Johnson Fellowships for Travel and Research: Anton
Disclafani and Amelia Sitter.
Betty and Michael Wolf Prize in American Literature:
Grace Abernethy Scholarship in Creative Writing: