Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

February 12, 2002

Whitworth English Professor Named Recipient of Graves Award

Poet Laurie Lamon's Work Inspires Students, Receives Nationwide Recognition

Whitworth College Associate Professor of English Laurie Lamon has been selected as a recipient of a 2002-03 Graves Award in the Humanities. The award, administered under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies by Pomona College on behalf of benefactors Arnold L. and Lois S. Graves, is given biennially to eight to 10 young faculty from private, liberal arts colleges in California, Washington and Oregon who exhibit exemplary skill and enthusiasm as teachers and whose research projects will enhance their classes.

Lamon is the third Whitworth faculty member to receive a Graves Award. Professor of Politics and History Corliss Slack won the award in 1993 and former English professor and interim president Phil Eaton was named a recipient in 1976.

The $9,000 Graves Award, which is intended to encourage and reward innovative scholarship in the humanities, will provide Lamon a paid release from teaching this summer and from teaching one course next fall, allowing her to devote time and attention to several substantial poetry-related projects.

"The window of time to focus on ongoing writing projects and life-long work that this award provides is a beautiful gift that means a great deal to me," Lamon says. "I am very grateful to Whitworth President Bill Robinson and the college for nominating me and then consequently providing this structure of release time that the award supports. It is an honor that I deeply appreciate."

Lamon will use the Graves Award to conduct research for the Poetry of Witness, a project she began two summers ago and plans to use as a course offering at Whitworth. The Poetry of Witness refers to the study of art's relation to humanity, and to our individual and collective experience of the present moment and historical time, Lamon says.

"One particular area of this study involves how the poem of witness succeeds in uniquely finding the voice and poetics that can express that part of human experience, individual and mass suffering, which is otherwise incomprehensible," Lamon says.

For her research on the Poetry of Witness, Lamon will study the works of poets including Israeli poet Amichai, as well as Paul Celan, Wislawa Szymborska, Zbigniew Herbert, Charles Simic, and Czeslaw Milosz to explore what is left to us when wholeness is vanquished, providing testimony that in the face of catastrophic suffering and the destruction of order, paradoxically, the body and spirit can persist, Lamon says.

"I believe the relevance of the Poetry of Witness is particularly crucial now and particularly significant for our students' intellectual and creative work, and their faith exploration" Lamon says. "The Poetry of Witness rejects a binary political/personal naming of experience, and thus is immeasurably valuable to students' scholarship and development as writers, as well to their understanding of their own place in culture and history."

Another project Lamon will undertake is revising a selection of poems by Paul Eluard, a French poet who survived his work in the underground during the occupation of France. Lamon translated 30 of Eluard's poems for her doctoral work, but approximately half of those need further work and revision, Lamon says.

"Eluard's poems are extraordinary in their language as well as in their vision of love's survival and physical survival during devastating times of extremity and occupation," Lamon says. "The translations connect to my study of the poets of witness, many of whom are Eastern European poets writing during World War II and its aftermath."

Along with conducting research for the Poetry of Witness and working on the Eluard translations, Lamon will utilize the Graves Award to continue writing new poems and working on poems in-process, as well as to continue her work on a manuscript of more than 50 poems - several of which have already been published - reflecting more than four years of work, Lamon says.

"I think a sustained period of focused work involving revisions and structure will bring it to completion by summer 2003," Lamon says.

Lamon will also continue circulating a manuscript of poems, The Repetition of Field, which is currently in circulation at university and other presses.

"I'll be working on keeping poems from the manuscript in circulation at poetry journals and magazines," Lamon says. "More than half of the poems in Repetition of Field have been published, so if the book isn't taken for publication this spring, I will focus on getting it in circulation at presses again in the fall."

As an accomplished poet, Lamon knows that any successful writer must value above all the act and joy of writing itself.

"I certainly feel that the successful publication of a poem depends on the author's faith in the poem and hard work in these days of unbelievable competition," Lamon says. "But in the classes I teach at Whitworth, the focus is not on publishing; it's on generating and writing a poem, and sustaining the love for and faith in that creative process."

Lamon's commitment to writing poetry led to her being awarded a 2001 Pushcart Prize for her poem, Pain Thinks of the Beautiful Table, which appeared in Pushcart's 26th annual anthology. Pain Thinks of the Hand, another of more than 30 poems in Lamon's Pain Poem series, was published in the December 24, 2002 issue of The New Republic.

Lamon recently learned that her poem Separating the Flowers has been accepted for publication by The New Criterion (New York), a national review of culture and ideas. In addition, two of Lamon's poems will be published in Primavera (Chicago), three in Arts & Letters of Contemporary Culture (Georgia), one in The Cream City Review (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), and two in Feminist Studies (University of Maryland). Three of Lamon's poems will also be published in Poetry Northwest (University of Washington), a journal in which her poems have appeared three times previously.

A 1978 graduate of Whitworth College, Lamon holds a master of fine arts from the University of Montana and a doctorate from the University of Utah. She has taught in the Whitworth English Department since 1985. In the past two years Lamon has published more than 20 poems in journals and magazines including Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture, The Colorado Review, Ploughshares and Poetry Northwest.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The college enrolls 2,100 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Laurie Lamon, associate professor of English, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4468 or llamon@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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