Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whitworth English professor and poet enjoys recent literary success


In the competitive world of literary journals, Whitworth Professor of English Laurie Lamon, ’78, has had 17 poems accepted for publication so far this year. Publishing one’s poetry requires considerable time and research, which makes her recent success all the more impressive.

“It’s a joyful experience to share poems with readers and to have an editor select your piece as part of the vision he or she has for that particular journal,” says Lamon. “This many publications in a year is completely unusual. I send out 60-80 poems a year, and I’m thrilled if I place just a few. This year I’ve just been lucky, and I’ve tried some new editors. It’s really interesting and gratifying to create new literary relationships.”

Lamon’s poetry has been accepted by a wide range of venues this year: Women’s Voices for Change accepted five of her poems and is printing them over the next few months; Poetry Daily featured “Danger” in May 2012; J Journal: New Writing on Justice accepted two poems for the November 2012 issue; Plume accepted “Your Beautiful Mouth” for November 2012; Ruminate Literary Journal accepted the poem “I stopped writing the poem,” which was a finalist for the Janet McCabe Poetry Prize; and New Verse News took four of her poems that address political topics.

Lamon encourages her students and poets at all stages to seek out poetry and read it, to listen to what young writers are doing, and to read the great modern and contemporary poets.

“I want students to think about writing as a way of life, not as an assignment for a class,” she says. “If you are engaged in the arts, you are always thinking creatively and intellectually about the culture in which you live, and how that culture intersects with others. The act of writing is absolutely private, but living with writing is to be engaged with the world around you.”

In addition to teaching and writing poetry, Lamon also is the acting poetry editor of Whitworth’s literary journal, Rock & Sling: A Journal of Witness.

“It is a growing experience for me as a writer to work with [Senior English Lecturer] Thom Caraway, Rock & Sling’s managing editor, as we look at poems we want to take that perhaps need some editing,” says Lamon. “Those conversations can go long, and get very specific about craft, voice, value and surprise.”

Lamon joined the Whitworth faculty in 1985, and her areas of specialization include 20th-century American poetry and poetry writing. She was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2001 and received a Graves Award in the Humanities in 2002, both for her poetry. She was selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall as a Witter Bynner Fellow.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.