Monthly Archives: April 2011

Awards, fellowships, and recent accolades

April 28, 2011
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Awards, fellowships, and recent accolades

’Tis the season for award announcements and prize citations, and we’re delighted to announced several recent winners and acknowledge their achievements.

We begin with an award close to home: the Gordon J. Laing Prize, which is awarded annually by the University of Chicago Press (since 1963) to the faculty author, editor, or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction. This year, we honor Robert J. Richards for The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought.

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Ellen Prager on Sex, Drugs, Sea Slime, and writing science

April 19, 2011
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Ellen Prager on Sex, Drugs, Sea Slime, and writing science

Our oceans are home to an astounding array of creatures, some of whom engage in peculiar underwater activities that help them stay alive, fight predators, reproduce, and eat. While this might sound simple, the actual patterns and behaviors that determine the rhythms of biodiversity are much more complicated—and witnessed by a very select few of us who dwell above ground. We asked marine scientist Ellen Prager, author of Chasing Science at Sea: Racing Hurricanes, Stalking Sharks, and Living Undersea with Ocean Experts and Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter, on how scientists might engage the public in highly topical matters—like the complications of marine life—that often require them to translate their expertise and specialized knowledge into relevant, accurate, and accessible writing.

The elegant beauty of a pacific sea nettle. Photo copyright David Wrobel / SeaPics.com. . . .

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Everything’s coming up poetry

April 13, 2011
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Everything’s coming up poetry

Yesterday afternoon, the Poetry Foundation announced their 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner: David Ferry, our own Phoenix Poet and author of three collections published by the University of Chicago Press. The Lilly Poetry Prize is presented annually to a living American poet whose lifetime accomplishments “warrant extraordinary recognition.” No small award, this: at $100,000, it is one of the nation’s largest and most coveted literary prizes. With all of that in mind, we extend our warmest congratulations to Professor Ferry on this remarkable achievement.

From Poetry editor Christian Wiman’s Lilly Prize citation:

“David Ferry is probably best known as a translator—and his achievements in that regard are extraordinary—but I think in the end it will be his poems that last,” said Wiman. “In a time when most poetry relies on intense surface energy, Ferry’s effects are muted and subterranean—but then, in their cumulative effect, seismic. For 50 years he has practiced poetry as if it truly matters to our lives and to our souls—and now his poems have that rare power to wake us up to both.”

We celebrate David Ferry as the author of Dwelling Places: Poems and Translations, Of No Country I Know: New and . . .

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What a little moonlight can do

April 8, 2011
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What a little moonlight can do

“Strange indeed are the places that give birth to the ideas that later, for better or worse, find physical form as books. I first encountered my subject lying on my back in a dentist’s chair. In an effort to distract the minds of those undergoing treatment, the dentist in question had attached a large photographic poster to the ceiling depicting the earth at night, seen from space. It is to the distant yet familiar world that his patients cast their eyes, sometimes blurred by tears, sometimes pre-naturally sharpened by the effort of ignoring their discomfort. What they learn is that much of the planet we inhabit no longer experiences ‘night’ as it was once understood.”

So James Attlee begins Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight, his meditation on the sublunar landscape and all things lux illuminata. Praised by Dominique Browning in the New York Times Book Review as “an inspiration,” Nocturne left our critic commenting, “It makes you want to pull a chair out into the garden and bathe in the moonlight. No questions asked.”

Jonathan Messinger, of Time Out Chicago, championed Attlee’s occasionally gruff yet wildly wondering prose as that of “our kind of codger,” while the . . .

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Playing poker with Parker: An interview with Brian Garfield

April 4, 2011
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Playing poker with Parker: An interview with Brian Garfield

“I did the job with a guy,” Parker said. “I guess I’ll get in touch with him again.”

Donald E. Westlake was a twentieth-century master of crime fiction. Under the name Richard Stark, one of his many pseudonyms, he penned the legendary Parker novels, including three just brought back into print by the University of Chicago Press this week: Butcher’s Moon (1974), Comeback (1997), and Backflash (1998), each with a new foreword by Westlake’s friend and writing partner Lawrence Block. To celebrate their release, Press publicity manager and Parker masterfan Levi Stahl sat down with Brian Garfield, novelist (author of the cult classics Death Wish and Hopscotch), screenwriter, and an old friend of Westlake’s. What’s in store? Behind-the-scenes snapshots of a legendary poker game, insight into the film adaptations spawned by the Parker series, a look into Westlake’s writing process, and more:

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LTS: First off, why don’t you just tell us a bit about your friendship with Donald Westlake. When and where did you meet? Were you friends for a long time?

BG: We met at a poker game in New York, 1965. It was a regular weekly quarter-limit writers’ game. Lawrence Block and agent Henry Morrison were . . .

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