Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thesis Awards

Our dear founder and beloved teacher, great writer and all around nice
guy, Kevin "Mc" McIlvoy has announced the winners of the Jacobs Thesis
Awards this year.

Poetry: LENT FROM STARS by Heather Frankland
These memorable poems present the testimonies of people who have
nourishment but cannot put hungering out of mind, who have safety but
are unsure they wish for it, who regard the transforming silences as
highly as the transacting instruments of language. I particularly
admire how the flow of thought in the poems progresses towards
judgment and certainty, but then is broken by moments of turning back
and turning deeper into the undertow of chaotic feeling. The result
is that each time I reread the poems, I feel my eyes, tongue, ears,
nose, skin have been brought closer to the sites of oblivion: that
algarroba tree (“Apology”), that creek bed (“You Are This Picture,
Cropped Out”), that crowded EL (“Intimacy”), that unexcavated city
(“Crushed Bouquets”), that carcass (“Always In Front of Them”). On the
haunting terrain of these poems, the reader is reminded that “we are
all hungry here / even the sky eats itself / every day at noon” (“Dry

Fiction: CLEARFORK by Erin Reardon
In every passage, these stories (“Grace” and “Clearfork”) expose the
quiet fears – of the body’s riddles, of the heart’s resistances to
trust – arising in familial relationships. I find genuine wisdom in
these sensitive portrayals of the human comedy. The scenes presenting
father and mother and stepmother offer extraordinary fullness; they
make us feel intimately present for the crucial moments in which no
resolution will occur, no consolation will arrive. What has laid claim
to us will not let us go: the author of Clearfork invites us to
experience the dark magic of that human mystery. I particularly admire
the moments in these stories that lift us into wonder, as when the
character Margaret (in “Grace”) imagines her unborn children: “Human
babies never spilled from her womb in these half-conscious imaginings;
they were always feline, uncurling in her arms, their downy fur slick
with her own insides, mewling. She would lift them to her chest and
lick them clean with her own long sandy tongue, would feel their
shapes in her mouth, their angular skulls and pointed ears. Her
children had pelts of gold, of the deepest black, of amber. In the
morning she would wake with their taste on her tongue…” There are many
moments like it in Clearfork, a complex work of exceptional clarity
and depth.

Mc writes: "this continued participation in the program means the
world to me: please convey to everyone there how grateful I am for the
honor of reading the MFA theses."

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