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January 13, 2005

ULM English Department Gets Busy This Spring with Several Events

The University of Louisiana at Monroe English Department is planning a bustling spring. For starters, this month, the ULM campus will host a public reading from acclaimed writer, Gary Soto. Also this spring, a writer-in-residence will be on-board throughout the semester, Bryan Di Salvatore. In addition, a Pushcart Prize is in the works for its international literary journal, turnrow, as well as the journal's February publication of first English translations of fiction from the new generation of Chinese writers.

"It is our business to train professional writers, and we want them to be as prepared as possible," said William Ryan, Professor in the ULM Department of English. That is one of the reasons that he and the department bring in nationally acclaimed writers and why they provide a variety of opportunities for students to learn about the profession of writing.

One writer of note that ULM is hosting this spring is Gary Soto. Soto is the author of ten poetry collections, most notably New and Selected Poems, and a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. His recollections Living Up The Street received a Before Columbus Foundation 1985 American Book Award. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including The Nation, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Ontario Review and most frequently Poetry, which has honored him with the Bess Hokin Prize and the Levinson Award and by featuring him in Poets in Person. He is one of the youngest poets to appear in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. He has received the Discovery-The Nation Prize, the U.S. Award of the International Poetry Forum, The California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award [twice], a Recognition of Merit from the Claremont Graduate School for Baseball in April, the Silver Medal from The Commonwealth Club of California, and the Tomás Rivera Prize, in addition to fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (twice), and the California Arts Council. For ITVS, he produced the film The Pool Party, which received the 1993 Andrew Carnegie Medal. For The Los Angeles Opera, he wrote the libretto for an opera titled Nerd-landia. In 1999 he received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association, and the PEN Center West Book Award for Petty Crimes. He serves as Young People's Ambassador for the California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) and the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). He lives in Berkeley, CA.

Soto will read from his work on Tuesday evening, January 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the University Conference Center on the 7th floor of the ULM Library, where a 4 p.m. a reception will precede. The author will also conduct writing workshops in classes at Robert E. Lee Junior High.
Gary Soto's reading and class visitations are funded by the ULM English Department and 8 (g) Competitive Grant Funds awarded by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Robert E. Lee Junior High.

Another accomplished writer who will be spending time on the ULM campus is Bryan Di Salvatore. He will be a full-time writer of creative non-fiction writer-in-residence for the spring 2005 semester. He is the author of A Clever Base-Ballist: The Life and Times of John Montgomery Ward and Truck Stop. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Outside, The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Men's Journal, Di Salvatore will teach two courses in the English Department's Creative Writing Program: A writing workshop in creative nonfiction and Topics in Contemporary Literature: Unsolid Citizens (Ken Kesey, Louise Erdrich, Sloan Wilson, Sinclair Lewis, Jack Kerouac, Brendan Boyd.)

Di Salvatore's big break came when the mock-heroic piece he wrote about watching the 1985 World Series with his softball team captured the attention of William Shawn (editor of The New Yorker), so it's only natural that his focus returned to baseball. A Clever Base-Ballist: The Life and Times of John Montgomery Ward introduces readers to the man who more than one hundred years ago organized the first-ever players union-John Montgomery Ward.
The author has taught writing at The University of Montana. Di Salvatore's B.A. is from Yale University and his M.F.A. is from University of Montana.

The English Depart at ULM is where students go to learn about contemporary literature. "We've published new work from Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners in turnrow, and we bring writers to campus from the top of the literary world all the time," said Jack Heflin, Professor in the ULM English Department. "turnrow draws submissions from all over the world," said Heflin.

Now with its seventh issue in production, turnrow, the international literary journal of the ULM English Department, won the annual Pushcart Prize for the best essay published in a small literary press. The essay, "Geographers at Mardi Gras: An Address to the American Geographers' Association," reprinted from turnrow in the 2004 Pushcart Anthology, was written by Louisiana writer Andrei Codrescu, who is well known for his commentaries on National Public Radio.
The annual Pushcart Anthology was the winner of the Publishers Weekly Carey-Thomas Award, has been selected many times as an "outstanding book of the year" by the New York Times Book Review, and chosen for two Book-of-the-Month-Club QPBC selections. The Pushcart Prize sets the standard of excellence for literary anthologies. Picking from thousands of nominations, each year it presents the most distinguished short stories, essays, and poetry first published by small presses and magazines nationwide, and each year it is hailed as a touchstone of literary discovery. The New York Times Book Review called it "The single best measure of the state of affairs in American literature today."

Since its inception in 2001, turnrow has published a steady stream of new work from esteemed writers. Among them are first English translations from over ten countries. The publication of fiction from Central Europe was covered on Hungarian national TV.

The new issue, due in February, will continue in that tradition with various works from the new generation of Chinese fiction writers, including the first publication in English by Wei Wei, and a complete novella from Yan Lianke, whose fiction has been translated to five languages.

Though many assume turnrow is a student publication, it is not-it's a professional literary journal. The Helicon is a journal of student writing, edited by ULM students.

Other facts about turnrow can be found online at

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