UMBC Homecoming Big Prize Poetry Slam (10/10)

The time has arrived once again for one of UMBC’s premiere arts events this year. The annual UMBC Homecoming Big Prize Poetry Slam will be held on Friday, October 10, 2014, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the Peforming Arts & Humanities Building (PAHB) first-floor atrium. Come enjoy a night of fun and poetry while cheering on the fantastic student and alumni poets as they compete for big prizes, enjoy wonderful free food, and even win door prizes. We look forward to seeing you there!

The event is presented by the English department, Bartleby, and the UMBC Homecoming Committee.

Maryland Humanities Council One Maryland One Book Program Comes to UMBC (9/30)

On September 30th, the Dresher Center for the Humanities and the Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) welcomes Reyna Grande, an extraordinary author of the modern Latin American immigrant experience, to UMBC.

Reyna Grande is the author of The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, the MHC’s One Maryland One Book selection for 2014. In The Distance Between Us, hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “the Angela’s Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience,” Grande poignantly shares her life before and after entering the United States as an undocumented immigrant.

On September 30th at 11 a.m. in the University Center Ballroom, the Dresher Center and MHC will host Ms. Grande in a special event for 300 Baltimore City high school students and selected guests. Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, will provide welcoming remarks. Dr. Gregory Thornton, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, and Phoebe Stein, Executive Director of the Maryland Humanities Council, will also attend the event. Over the past six years, the One Maryland One Book partnership has given thousands of Baltimore City students the opportunity to participate in rich and meaningful discussions about literature. “Having the author book talk on a college campus is an added bonus, since it exposes our students to one of the many college options that exist in their own backyard,” says Amy Rosenkrans, Director of Humanities for Baltimore City Public Schools.

The One Maryland One Book program is a statewide community reading program designed to bring together diverse people in communities across the state through the shared experience of reading the same book. For more information: visit www.onemarylandonebook.org.

Michele Osherow, English, Participates in the U.S. Premiere of “The Veil”

The Veil

Photo credit: St. Johnn Blondell. Actors from left to right: Michele Osherow, Steve LaRocque, Jane Squier Bruns.

This past summer, The Quotidian Theatre in Bethesda hosted the U.S. premiere of Conor McPherson’s play “The Veil,” which debuted in 2011 at London’s National Theatre. The description of the play is as follows on the Quotidian website: “Set in a haunted mansion in rural Ireland in 1822, surrounded by a restive, starving populace, ‘The Veil’ weaves Ireland’s troubled colonial history into a transfixing story about the search for love, the transcendental, and the circularity of time.”

Michele Osherow, an associate professor of English, played the widowed Lady Lambroke, the owner of the Irish country manor where the play takes place. Osherow and other cast members received a strong review in the Washington Post for their work: “LaRocque’s Rev. Berkeley, Decker’s Mr. Audelle, Osherow’s Lady Lambroke and Mayo’s Hannah are all well-rounded characterizations, their lines spoken with unstilted English and Irish accents.

The play ran from July 18-August 17 and in addition to the Washington Post, it received praise from MD Theatre Guide, DC Theatre Scene, Broadway World, and DC Metro Theatre Arts. To read more of the reviews and find more information about “The Veil,” click here.

Osherow has extensive experience in professional theatre and serves as the Resident Dramaturg for the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C. She received a 2012 best actress nomination from D.C. Theatre Scene for her work in Brian Friel’s Afterplay (Quotidian Theatre).

Tanya Olson, English, Wins 2014 American Book Award

The Before Columbus Foundation has announced the winners of its 35th Annual American Book Awards. The prestigious American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions.

Boyishly Tanya OlsonTanya Olson, a lecturer in UMBC’s English department, received a 2014 American Book Award for her book Boyishly, published by YesYes Books in May 2013. The book is a collection of poems which explores personal and public constructions of gender, violence, and America and it received the following review from “Good Reads”:

“Tanya Olson’s BOYISHLY is a magic book. It casts a spell upon you. Olson uses language like Gertrude Stein does, building large monuments of sound into humming lattices, where a ‘whale will do as a whale will do, ‘ or where ‘tree forms shapes for tiger’ and ‘tiger takes shape / under tree.’ In this book, Olson writes poems to a future America from beyond the planetary gravestone, where there is only a ‘boyish summer’ and the ‘boyish waters.’ The voice says come back to me. I am not done with you. I was waiting for you all along.”–Dorothea Lasky

Olson will be formally recognized for her award on Sunday, October 26 at the SF Jazz Center, Joe Henderson Lab in San Francisco, California. For more information on the 2014 American Book Awards and to see the complete list of recipients, click here. You can read more about the Before Columbus Foundation here.

Christopher Corbett, English, Presents the Story of the Pony Express at the Western Writers of America Convention

Christopher Corbett, professor of the practice in the English Department, spoke June 25 at the Western Writers of America annual convention on the story of the Pony Express. Western Writers of America, Inc. was founded in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West and currently has more than 650 members including historians, fiction and nonfiction authors, and authors interested in regional history, among other genres.

Corbett is the author of Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express and The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West. This year’s Western Writers of America convention was held in Sacramento, California from June 24-28.

Video: Shakespeare Sonnets Recited in More Than 30 Languages at UMBC

On April 23, 2014, UMBC students, faculty and staff recited Shakespeare sonnets in more than 30 languages. The event was held to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and UMBC’s diverse voices. It took place at the end of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD), and it was sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Office of Undergraduate Education and the English and Theatre Departments. The above video is a sample of some of the readings.

Jessica Berman, English, Elected Second Vice President of the Modernist Studies Association

Jessica Berman, Director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities and Professor of English, has been elected to be the Second Vice President of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA). She is set to take office in fall 2014, succeed to be First Vice President in fall 2015 and then become the President of the MSA for the 2016-17 year.

The MSA is a 1000-member organization in its 15th year of existence. It was begun to provide an interdisciplinary and international venue for research in what has since been called “the new modernist studies” – modernist studies that question the canon and works to break down disciplinary silos. The MSA hosts an annual conference and also sponsors the journal Modernism/Modernity, which has become the journal of record in the field. As an allied organization of the MLA, it also hosts an annual MLA conference panel and participates in other MLA organization initiatives. For more information on the MSA, click here.