Donna Binns

I had an article published in Kansas English called "Writing-to-Learn in the Transition from High School to College."


John Guzlowski

I was in Connecticut this week for 4 poetry readings and my niece's wedding. On another note, I recently won the poetry manuscript competition at Steel Toe Books, and they will be publishing my new book about my parents, Dreaming in America, in Spring 2007.

Hope all is going well for my friends in the English Department.


Keith Spear

By Train to Glacier

I am thankful every day to be a part of this department where our faithful correspondence and friendship adds a precious facet to living, builds a bridge between centuries that we can cross barefoot, laughing.

I imagine it sounds tame, but I have become interested in realizing that long before we were humans, long before we were even animals, we living creatures were plants; and we have internalized their rhythms and aspects. We turn to the light, and when we’re at our best, we turn phototropically, like a sunflower, without thought or strategy. We may not manufacture sugar from sunlight like our green cousins, but that is only because we have moved on to manufacture proteins and enzymes and hormones and poems.

After a “stimulating and challenging” spring semester (Atwood “Happy Endings”), I transitioned into three summer carpentry jobs: a beautiful kitchen with countertops of quartz, an Andersen window and door replacement project for a writer’s studio, and an elegant master bathroom, where natural light pours in to what once was a dungeon.

Upon completion of these projects, Karen and I boarded a train in downtown Chicago on July 15 and headed out to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park for three weeks to visit her daughter Jamie who is an interpretive park ranger there. We hiked one hundred and twenty miles of trails. We saw bears more days than not, brown and black, as well as moose, marmots, big horned sheep, and mountain goats. We paddled with a loon and saw eagles, both Golden and Bald.

During the initial hours of a forest fire at St. Mary’s which eventually grew to engulf twenty-eight thousand acres, six smoke jumpers from Missoula, Montana parachuted into the blaze that had been ignited by Boy Scouts attempting to roast a Columbian Ground Squirrel, and one of the chutes was attacked by a pair of Golden Eagles. Know the feeling?

We backpacked fourteen miles to the Granite Park Chalet, where a great kitchen and comfortable beds are available—you just bring yourself and your food and your camera. There are a few large wooden tables in the common area downstairs, a room that is floored with grey slabs of petrified ripples: the entire region was once an ocean bed that was thrust upward by the collision of tectonic plates, forming a high plateau that was subsequently carved into peaks and cirques by the many glaciers that remain today. Again, a metaphor of our formative years (and here’s a news flash: do they ever stop being formative?).

I waited until the trip home to read a book that had been recommended called The Night of the Grizzlies, and in its pages I learned that there had never been a fatal attack in the park’s fifty-seven year history until the night of August twelfth the year when I was fourteen. On that night, two different bears, separated by twelve miles, attacked and killed two beautiful nineteen year-old women. I remembered reading the three - installment story in Sports Illustrated in my best friend’s bedroom in Mattoon. What I didn’t remember was that one of the girls died on a table at the Granite Park Chalet, where there just happened to be staying that night, among others, two doctors, a registered nurse, a Jesuit priest, and a Native American Indian who tracked the girl after she had been dragged away. Chilling.

Speaking of which, I read a book on global warming while sitting on the Grinnell Glacier, not far from the Al Gore Rock. Have you seen An Inconvenient Truth?

We visited Waterton, Canada three times. After a glorious fourteen mile hike called the Carthew-Alderson Trail, we swam in the glacial waters of the big lake and I fell in love—with Kokanee Glacier Beer. Later, on Canadian TV the same day Fidel handed power to Raul, there was a long segment on icebreakers trying to establish the new northern boundary based on a revised map of the continental shelf. These ships were pushing through soft ice and slush that have been impassable for many thousands of years.

We will adapt and as scary as change is, it is also a natural and potentially fun fact of life. People who don’t write think that evolution and global warming are concepts of such mind boggling duration that they cannot be observed during a normal human lifetime. Writers pay attention to our lives. The evidence is everywhere and obvious. Here at home, I have seven species of Magnolias, two Jasmines, two banana trees (one of which is in its fifth season), even two Camellias, a white and a pink. And this is Illinois?

Welcome back, everyone.


P. S. I sense an idealism in my students I have not felt for years. I neglected to mention that my son Huck was married in Austin on August twelfth, so we got home by train, I mowed the yard, and we flew to Texas.

As for the train ride to Glacier, too beautiful for words.


Angela Vietto

Having received tenure, I anticipate resting comfortably on my laurels for the rest of my career. "No more research, no new course preps, and for God's sake--no service!"

Ummm, I guess that won't do, will it?

The real scoop, for what it's worth:

Early this summer I completed a review essay, "Daughters of the Tenth Muse: New Histories of Women and Writing in Early America," which will appear in Early American Literature in December. My book Women and Authorship in Revolutionary America will finally be between covers by the end of the year. Delightfully, it was accepted to the same series as Julie Campbell's Literary Circles And Gender in Early Modern Europe: A Cross-cultural Approach (Ashgate's Women and Gender in the Early Modern World series). More recently, I've been working on several interrelated projects focusing on the connections between gender, race, and writing style in 18th-century Anglo-American literature.


Anne Zahlan

In late May, I attended the Thomas Wolfe Society meeting in Chapel Hill, N.C. It was a busy two days as I moderated a plenary session, met with the staff of the Thomas Wolfe Review, attended Executive Board meetings, listened to every paper (scouting for articles), and talked to lots of people. At the banquet, I received an award from the Society: the "Paul and Zelda Gitlin Prize" for the best scholarly article on Wolfe published in 2005. The award was for my essay "Sitting Where van Gogh Sat: Exile and the Narrative Vocation in Thomas Wolfe's Of Time and the River."

At the end of June, I traveled to British Columbia, where we participated in the International Lawrence Durrell Society conference at the University of Victoria. In addition to listening to interesting papers and attending meetings, I moderated two plenary sessions, took part in a panel on "Teaching Durrell," and gave a paper titled "'Always Friday the Thirteenth': The Knights Templar and the Instability of History in Lawrence Durrell’s The Avignon Quintet."


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