||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Max Garland Receives|
Bush Artist Fellowship
MAILED: June 18, 1999|
Poet and short-story writer Max Garland was among the 15 artists awarded 1999 Bush Artist Fellowships this spring.
The $40,000 fellowship will allow Garland, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire assistant professor of English, to spend a year working on creative writing projects beginning in the fall.
"I hope to spend my time completing a book of poems and a book of short stories," said Garland, who has been teaching creative writing, composition and literature at UW-Eau Claire since 1996. "I need time to write and travel. This is the best thing a fellowship can do for a writer or an artist give them freedom from other work obligations so they can concentrate fully on their creative work."
While the award will help him as a creative writer, Garland said it also will benefit UW-Eau Claire students because it will make him a better teacher. "Students need teachers who are doing what they teach so it's good for the students if I'm actively writing," Garland said. "It's good for them to see that I'm seriously dedicated to my craft. And when I come back, I'll bring with me new work and ideas to share. I'll have more energy and enthusiasm."
Garland's first book of poetry, "The Postal Confessions," received a 1996 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association and was the winner of the 1994 Juniper Prize. Poems in "The Postal Confessions" are set in the corner of western Kentucky, said Garland, a former rural mail carrier from western Kentucky. The mysteries of religious faith, the realm of Cold War politics, and the rituals of romantic love are all topics explored in his poetry.
The book of poems he hopes to complete during his fellowship year will explore some of those same topics, but also will touch on his surroundings since moving to Wisconsin, he said.
"Many of the poems I write are about a child sorting through the things he's been taught about the world, religion, love, country and family," Garland said. "But in this book there also will be poems set in Wisconsin, a more contemporary setting. They will be adult perceptions and they will be more about the natural world. They will be set in the moment rather than in the past. Some are love and desire poems; some have religious themes, questioning religion. And some are just what I'm thinking when I'm going about my life."
Garland said he hopes to travel during his fellowship year to stimulate a new direction in his work and to isolate himself so he has more opportunities to write. "A change of surroundings is a good thing for a writer," he said. "If I have new images around me, it can prompt new directions for my poetry. A poem can start with anything so if I see the same things every day, I write about the same things. A new sensory world around you is a healthy thing for a poet."
The second book Garland will work on in the upcoming year will be a series of short stories, with each story involving the same characters living in western Kentucky in 1962. "The stories involve a child coming of age in rural Kentucky," he said, noting that the heart of the stories follows how a grandson and his grandparents with whom he lives interact. Tentatively titled "The Land of Nod," Garland said he expects the book to include eight to 10 short stories.
Garland, the only 1999 recipient from Wisconsin, is the third member of UW-Eau Claire's English faculty to receive the Bush Artist Fellowship. English professors John Hildebrand and Bruce Taylor are past recipients.
Recipients of the fellowships work in the areas of film/video, literature, music composition and scriptworks. The 15 recipients of the 1999 awards were selected from 389 applications. Artists must live in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or western Wisconsin.
Begun in 1976, the Bush Artist Fellowship program provides artists with significant financial support that enables them to advance their work and further their contribution to their communities. The BAF supports artists whose work reflects any of the region's diverse geographic, racial and aesthetic communities. Artists may be at any stage of their life's work from early to mature.
Garland previously was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry, a James Michener Fiction Fellowship and the Wisconsin Arts Board Literary Fellowship.
Before coming to UW-Eau Claire, Garland was a visiting lecturer in creative writing from 1990-96 at UW-Madison. He earned his bachelor's degree at Western Kentucky University and his master's from the University of Iowa.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 18, 1999