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KEVIN MCFADDEN WINS MIAMI'S GOLDMAN PRIZE
OXFORD, Ohio -- Kevin McFadden chooses his words
But then again, most poets do.
Thanks to Miami University's Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Prize,
McFadden will be able give "poet" as his full-time occupation next year. As
the winner of the prize, the senior from Brunswick, Ohio, will spend the year
in San Francisco and plans to produce a book-length manuscript of poems.
McFadden, who has a double major in English literature and creative
writing, started writing poetry in high school--where he was inspired and
encouraged by a teacher.
"Writing is my way of dealing with the world," he says.
He tries not to get "bogged down with the ideas" for his poetry,
preferring to concentrate instead on finding the right words.
"The words are what is most important. Sometimes you have to wait a
little longer for them, but it's usually worth it."
His most ambitious creation is called Petals for Miss Wu, a
collection of fourteen-liners (quasi-sonnets) and haiku that James Reiss,
professor of English and editor of the Miami University Press, calls
"sophisticated, funny and even riveting."
McFadden must have realized he was on to something when, on the first day
he began writing about--or to--Miss Wu (a "mysterious and entirely imaginative
mistress"), he had begun or finished 20 poems, about 10 times his weekly average!
Modestly, he claims to be "mostly dissatisfied with his work," but says
that one of the wonderful things about the Wu series is he's now incorporating
parts of old poems, that never quite pleased him, into these new works--and
they fit. "I've started to put everything together. It's sort of like finding
things in an old garage."
Reiss, who will serve as McFadden's writing coach and editor for the year,
has the highest praise for his student. "Of the more than 3,000 students I've
encountered in my 31 years as an English professor here at Miami and elsewhere,
McFadden ranks right up there in the top one-percent."
"In fact, the only other undergraduate I've taught who is as stellar as
McFadden is my most famous student, the former Poet Laureate of the United
States, Rita Dove. I'm not exaggerating when I state that Kevin McFadden has
the promise of reaching the pinnacle of our profession--as Rita Dove reached
The Goldman prize, similar to the professional-level MacArthur Foundation
Awards, supports students with exceptional promise as poets, writers,
musicians, historians, scientists and artists.