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Two seniors receive Bucknell poetry fellowships

April 16, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Two Western Michigan University students are among 12 undergraduates nationwide to be named fellows of the selective Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.

Jennifer Dempsey and Rebecah Pulsifer, who both will graduate from WMU later this month, were chosen from a large pool of applicants to attend a three-week poetry seminar at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. Held annually, it provides an extended opportunity for students to develop their writing and work alongside some of the country's most accomplished poets. Participants receive full fellowships to attend the conference, which is similar in format to a professional writers' colony.

"The program is extremely competitive, and students must be seriously committed to their writing to be considered," says Andrew Ciotola, operations manager for Bucknell University's Stadler Center for Poetry. "It's very unusual for two students from any one school to be chosen for the program in a given year."

Fellows are handpicked from among as many as 1,000 applicants by a panel of professional writers and educators based on their level of promise and achievement. Members of the selection committee say they look for considerable breadth and depth in a students' writing abilities when making their decisions.

"We simply want to invite the best and most ambitious undergraduate poets we can find to take part in the seminar," says center director G.C. Waldrep. "This is a group of excellent young writers--all exceptional students in their home schools. My primary hope is that in coming together they could form a community of peers--peers in age, but also peers in terms of quality of and commitment to their writing."

Other schools represented by this year's fellows are Bucknell University, Emerson College, Lewis & Clark College, Middlebury College, Nebraska Wesleyan University, St. Mary's College of Maryland, Trinity University, University of Texas-Pan American and University of West Georgia.

Jennifer Dempsey of Romeo, Mich., is graduating from WMU with a double major in English with an emphasis in creative writing and gender and women's studies. A member of the University's Lee Honors College, one of the oldest and finest honors colleges in the country, she's received a number of awards for her work and efforts at WMU including the Department of English's George Sprau Award and the Dean's Summer Research Thesis Grant. She won third place for original poetry at the 2007 Sigma Tau Delta International Convention out of more than 600 conference presenters, and both her poetry and fiction were finalists in the 2007 WMU Creative Writing Awards.

Jennifer has also won acceptance to five conventions for WMU's English Studies Symposium and has presented her theories and creative work at two WMU English Writing Conferences as well as six other state, national and international conferences. A member of the Golden Key and Sigma Tau Delta international honor societies, she's been published in The Laureate and Redactions Poetry and Poetics. Jennifer has been a writing consultant in WMU's Writing Center since 2004 and a writing studio consultant and peer tutor in the University's basic writing program since 2006. She participated in WMU's Prague Summer Program, and was a teaching assistant for an English literacy classics course. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a master's degree in poetry and doctoral degree in English.

Rebecah Pulsifer of Charlotte, Mich., is graduating from WMU with a double major in English with an emphasis in creative writing and music performance. A member of the University's Lee Honors College, she writes poetry and nonfiction and plays the clarinet. Rebecah came to WMU on a Medallion Scholarship, the highest honor the University can bestow to an incoming freshman. A member of the Phi Kappa Lambda music honors society and Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity, she's received a number of awards for her work and efforts at WMU including a 2007 Creative Writing Award for her poetry and 2008 George Sprau Award, given to graduating English majors for academic excellence. She was also a finalist in the 2008 WMU Concerto Competition. Following graduation, she plans to study English literature or creative writing at the graduate level.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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