Honors Earned by UMass Amherst English Faculty

May 14, 1998

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Poets Attend White House Event

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts poets James Tate and Dara Wier were invited to the White House recently to take part in a cultural event hosted by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. The "celebration of American creativity through poetry" featured Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove and took place in the East Room of the White House, April 22. The Poets Laureate, along with President and Mrs. Clinton and members of the audience, read poems they had selected as particularly illustrative of the American voice in poetry.

The event was the latest of the Millennium Evenings, a series of lectures that highlight creativity and inventiveness through ideas, art, and scientific discoveries. The lectures ? co-sponsored by the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Library of Congress with support from Sun Microsystems Inc., and the Howard Gilman Foundation ? present prominent scholars, creators, and visionaries, and are accessible to the public via broadcast and cybercast.

The first Millennium Evening was held Feb. 11, 1998, with Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn lecturing on core American ideas which must be preserved into the next Millennium. On March 6, 1998, Cambridge University physicist Stephen Hawking discussed "Imagination and Change: Science in the Next Millennium," an event which the University received through a satellite downlink.

Tate and Wier were invited because of their prominence within the world of letters. Both have published numerous books, and Tate has won many awards including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Tanning Award in the Art of Poetry.

English Professor Wins Pushcart Short Story Prize

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts English professor John J. Clayton has won a Pushcart Prize for his short story, "Let’s Not Talk Politics, Please." The story originally appeared in the prestigious literary journal "Witness."

The prize caps off a year of literary activity for Clayton. His collection of stories "Radiance," appears this month, and his novel, "The Man I Never Wanted to Be," will be published in December. "Radiance" also won the first annual Ohio State University Award in Short Fiction. Renowned writer Frederick Busch, who judged the contest, wrote, "This is a book about victories - of the soul, and of our language."