WMU's New Issues saluted with award, $10,000 grant

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of the cover of the book Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry.

The anthology "Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry" was named a 2014 Michigan Notable Book.

KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University's New Issues Poetry and Prose has started the new year with three recent accomplishments—an award, a major grant and recognition for one of its authors.

The University's literary press is celebrating its anthology, "Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry," being named a 2014 Michigan Notable Book, receiving a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a chancellorship for author Khaled Mattawa.

The Michigan Notable Book Award is given to the top 20 Michigan-related books each year, as decided by a committee of booksellers, librarians and reviewers through the Library of Michigan. New Issues will be formally recognized at an event in April in Lansing titled "Night for Notables." The Michigan Notable Book program will coordinate a series of 50 readings and author visits across the state during the upcoming year.

About the book

"Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry" features the work of 90 Michigan poets, including a former U.S. Poet Laureate, and 48 works of art by Michigan artists. The book was coedited by Dr. William Olsen, a WMU professor of English, and Dr. Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of English at Hope College. Poems by both Olsen and Ridl are included in the anthology, which has won high praise from others in the poetry world, along with works by Philip Levine, the former U.S. Poet Laureate, Jim Harrison, author of "Legends of the Fall," and Thomas Lynch, whose books of essays inspired the television show "Six Feet Under."

NEA grant

With the $10,000 NEA grant, WMU has earned the distinction of housing one of only four university-affiliated presses to earn an NEA grant this year for literature and one of only two publishing poetry.

The grant will help support the printing and promotion of New Issues' Green Rose Series. Titles in this series for 2014 include Ralph Angel's "Your Moon," Lisa Williams' "Gazelle in the House" and Judy Halebsky's "Tree Line." The grant also allows New Issues to pursue multi-media approaches to promoting the series. The press will collaborate with WMU assistant professor of art Adriane Little to produce videos featuring the work of these poets. Little is currently utilizing New Issues titles to teach introductory film students how to engage poetry with this visual medium.

Khaled Mattawa

New Issues author Mattawa was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, an honorary position that has been held by some of the most distinguished poets in the United States. Authors so honored include Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, Yusef Komunyakaa and John Ashbery.