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PittWriters in the News

A prestigious USA Fellowship Award for Dawn Lundy Martin

Professor Dawn Lundy Martin, Toi Derricotte Endowed Chair and Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, has a new honor. She's one of the "creative disruptors, social sculptors, and material vanguards" chosen for the 2022 USA Fellowship Awards. 

A new honor for Toi Derricotte 

Having been awarded almost every prize the world of poetry bestows for its great practitioners, Professor Emerita Toi Derricotte has now won the Academy of American Poetry prize for her outstanding and proven mastery of the art of poetry. 

Michael Meyer's Life Studies


Congrats to Professor Michael Meyer, who's been selected to be a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Life-Writing. Founded by Dame Hermione Lee, the program brings together authors from around the globe to produce the best in biography. Meyer is finishing research on a book recounting a scandalous 1877 trial in London over a woman’s defiant publication of a birth-control pamphlet. His forthcoming book “Benjamin Franklin’s Last Bet,” detailing the 200-year legacy of Franklin’s bequests to working-class Americans, will be published by HarperCollins in April. Meyer will also be a Fulbright Scholar to Taiwan in spring 2022. 


Brian Broome is a Kirkus Prize-winner 

The accolades for Brian Broome and his memoir Punch Me Up to the Gods keep coming. He's just been named winner of the 2021 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction! Congratulations, Brian! We couldn't be more thrilled. 


A trifecta for Brian Broome

It's not every day that a first book makes the Amazon Best-of list or gets its own billboard above New York's Penn Station. Punch Me Up to the Gods has done both. It's also gotten a rave from The New York Times Book Review: "[Brian Broome's] writing is as lucid, heart-rending, and , on occasion, hilarious as it is necessary."


Word is out 

For Brian Broome's (NF 2021) forthcoming memoir Punch Me Up to the Gods, which is getting advance quotes like these:

Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities of the American paragraph. I’m not sure a book has ever had me sobbing, punching the air, dying of laughter, and needing to write as much as Brian Broome’s staggering debut. This sh*t is special.” — Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy

Punch Me Up to the Gods is some of the finest writing I have ever encountered and one of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you—have ever read....It contains everything we all crave so deeply: truth, soul, brilliance, grace. It is a masterpiece.”— Augusten Burroughs, New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors

 “Punch Me Up to the Gods is a pain-filled tour de force of incredible beauty. The writing is as exquisite as the story is at times horrific. A true work of art. Not one of the best new books I’ve read this year, but quite simply the best.” — Sapphire, author of Push and The Kid 

 Miracles Coming 

Watch out for Katie Booth's (NF 2013) The Invention of Miracles, a thrilling, revisionist literary biography of Alexander Graham Bell that explores his ambiguous legacy for deaf people. 

Diana Khoi Nguyen Knows How to Pick 'Em 

Diana Khoi Nguyen, the newest star in Pitt's poetry faculty, is a judge of the 2020 National Book Awards in Poetry. You can find the nominees here.  

Accolades for Toi Derricotte 

Professor emerita Toi Derricotte is the 2020 recipient of the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. The award is presented annually by the Poetry Society of America to recognize the lifetime achievement of an American poet. 

Derricotte's sixth and most recent collection of poetry, 'I': New and Selected Poems, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press and shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award. 

In its citation, the Society's Board of Governors announces, "There are few poets who are as brave as Toi Derricotte; brave in her subject matter and brave in how she insists that even the deepest hurts must sing on the page. . . .Her work dives into the interior of African American womanhood, and brings back such lyric beauty. Her poems have given vast permission to the poets who have followed her to tell the truths of their lives, and in doing that, have allowed us all a chance to re-discover the world." 

Michael Meyer gets a Fullbright 

Professor Michael Meyer has been awarded a prestigious Fullbright award to conduct research in Taiwan in Spring 2021. We're huge fans of his work and can't wait to read the book that comes out of his stay. 

An NEA fellowship to Anjali Sachdeva

The National Endowment for the Arts has recognized Anjali Sachdeva with a 2020 fellowship in Fiction. Big up, Anjali! 

Anjali Sachdeva wins the 2019 Chautauqua Prize 

A shout-out to Lecturer Anjali Sachdeva, whose enthusiastically received debut collection, All the Names They Used for God, has just won the 2019 Chautauqua Prize

PittWriters grieves the passing of Chuck Kinder 

With great sorrow the Writing Program announces the passing of Chuck Kinder, fictionist, poet, memoirist, wild man, master teacher and unstinting mentor. For many years he directed this program and, with his partner Diane Cecily, hosted students, faculty, and stray writers (but isn't every writer a stray?) at their home in Squirrel Hill. He made us so much of what we are and what we aspire to be. A memorial is scheduled this September. 

Shannon Reed wins the Internet 

We usually skip year-end lists, but we're happy to learn that Shannon Reed (MFA in Fiction, 2015) is the author of 2018's most-viewed story on McSweeney's. You can read it here


A triumphant review for Terrance Hayes' new book of poems 

We don't need the New York Times to tell us how good his poems are, but from time to time a reminder is in order: "Each one is distinct: Some are sermons, some are swoons. They are acrid with tear gas, and they unravel with desire."  Congratulations, Terrance. 

A tap from the Times Book Review for Anjali Sachdeva's brilliant collection

Lecturer Anjali Sachdeva's first book of stories, All the Names They Used for God, just got this shout-out from The New York Times Book Review: "The strange and wonderful stories that make up Sachdeva's debut begin on this side of reality and slip to the other-- often so gracefully, and with such precise rendering of the fantastical, that we become inadvertent believers." 

Sarah Menkedick's Homecoming on PEN's longlist 

Fingers crossed for Sarah Menkedick (Nonfiction, 2013), whose book Homecoming has been longlisted for the PEN Diamonstein/Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, for a book published in 2017 that "exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature." 

An NEA for Dawn Lundy Martin

We couldn't be happier to announce that Professor Dawn Lundy Martin is one of 36 writers who will receive a 2018 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Big up, Dawn. You make us proud.   

Shannon Reed in The New Yorker 

Shannon Reed (Fiction, 2015), a part-time instructor in the English department, has broken down the doors of the castle and published a piece in the print edition of The New Yorker. Check out her "Classic Musicals, Updated" in the March 20, 2017 issue. We dare you not to laugh.  

Lauren Russell Awarded an NEA 

We're thrilled to report that Lauren Russell has been given a prestigious NEA fellowship in poetry. Her new book, What's Hanging on the Hush, will be published by Ahsahta Press this spring. Lauren, who got her MFA at Pitt, is a Research Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

A National Book Award to Pitt alumnus Daniel Borzutsky

Daniel Borzutsky, who graduated from Pitt with a B.A. in philosophy in 1997, has won the 2016 National Book Award in poetry for The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016), a book of 17 poems that examines the complicated historical, political, and cultural relationship between Latin America and the United States. With Professor Terrance Hayes, who won the 2010 National Book Award for Lighthead, Borzutsky is the second alumnus of the University in six years to win the nation's highest literary award in poetry. 

Terrance Hayes gives an uncompromising address on race and poetry at the 2016 National Book Awards. 

Presenting the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award to the Cave Canem Foundation, Professor Terrance Hayes spoke about the imperative of defending black poetry and black poets in the face of oppression and brutality. You can read more here.

Michael Meyer named NEH Public Scholar

A big, big up to Professor Michael Meyer, who's been honored with a 2016-2017 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award to undertake the project, “Benjamin Franklin's Last Bet: How a Founding Father's Daring Philanthropy Reshaped the American Will." According to the NEH: "The Public Scholar Program supports well-researched books in the humanities intended to reach a broad readership. Books supported by this program must be grounded in humanities research and scholarship. They must address significant humanities themes likely to be of broad interest and must be written in a readily accessible style. Making use of primary and/or secondary sources, they should open up important and appealing subjects for a wide audience. The challenge is to make sense of a significant topic in a way that will appeal to general readers." 

Dawn Lundy Martin wins the Lambda. 

Professor Dawn Lundy Martin's Life in a Box is a Pretty Life has won the 28th annual Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. Congratulations, Dawn! 

Terrance Hayes honored by the Academy 

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has just named Professor Terrance Hayes the recipient of one of its 2016 awards in literature. Other honorees include Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lynn Nottage, Katie Peterson, and Spencer Reese. 

Jeanne Marie Laskas's Concussion a bestseller 

Concussion, Professor Jeanne Marie Laskas's riveting account of Dr. Bennet Omalu's discovery of CTE, football-related brain trauma, has been made into a dramatic thriller starring Will Smith. The book is now a New York Times bestseller. Excerpts are available in The Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal; you can also read the original GQ article or listen to interviews with the author at CBSBBC, and NPR’s Science Friday.  

A prestigious bifecta for Terrance Hayes

Having been named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, How to Be Drawn, the new book of poems by Professor Terrance Hayes, is now also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The NBCC winners will be announced March 17, but frankly, we couldn’t wait to brag. 

Adriana Ramirez wins the PEN/Fusion Emerging Writer's Prize

Happy to announce that Adriana Ramirez, a lecturer in the Writing Program, has won this year's PEN/Fusion Emerging Writer's Prize, awarded to a writer under 35 for an unpublished work of nonfiction that addresses a global or multicultural issue. You can read about Ramirez and the award in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh City Paper.

A Fullbright for Alumna Sarah Menkedick 

A big hand for Sarah Menkedick (Nonfiction 2013), who's been offered a Fullbright U.S. Student Program grant in Creative Writing. 

Johnson Wins the Whiting

Congratulations to Lecturer Jenny Johnson, one of ten emerging writers to receive a 2015 Whiting Award.

Michael Meyer on In Manchuria 

Assistant Professor Michael Meyer discusses his new book with Leonard Lopate on WNYC FM, with Kai Ryssdal on "Marketplace," and with historian Ian Buruma at The Asia Society. Click here for the complete video. 

MacArthur Fellowship for Hayes

Professor Terrance Hayes has been named a MacArthur Fellow. Read the Sept. 17, 2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.

More News About Game Brain

Game Brain, a big budget movie based on Jeanne Marie Laskas's GQ article will be filmed in Pittsburgh. Read the July 7, 2014 Tribune-Review article.

Potential Star for "Game Brain" Movie

Will Smith is in talks to star in a film based on the GQ article “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Read the June 4, 2014 Washington Post article.

Profile of Retiring Professor Chuck Kinder

The Tribune-Review profiled Chuck Kinder on May 29, 2014. You can read the article.

NYT Article Mentions Cave Canem and Toi Derricotte, Quotes Terrance Hayes

A front-page article in the New York Times for May 27, 2014, "The Dark Room Collective: Where Black Poetry Took Wing," refers to Cave Canem and Toi Derricotte and quotes Terrance Hayes several times. You can read the article online.

Chabon Remembers His Teacher, Ed Ochester

In July 2013, the New York Review of Books published Michael Chabon's remembrance of studying poetry with Ed Ochester. Read "Let It Rock" in PDF format.

Best American Poetry Blog Interviews Ed Ochester

Read this June 2013 interview with retired Pitt professor Ed Ochester, who is the editor for the Pitt Poetry Series.

Revised 09/21/2022
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