Monday, November 21, 2011

My Rock Star Colleagues

I am blessed to work with pretty incredible people. Calvin College is the place I've planted myself, in no small part because the intellectual energy of this institution keeps me on my toes: I am constantly learning from my colleagues across the disciplines. We're big enough to have an amazing array of scholars at work in a number of fields, but also just small enough to actually get to know each other and collaborate on different projects.

Indeed, some of my colleagues are just downright "rock stars" who allow the rest of us to bask in reflected glory. As a sample, let me highlight just two who've gotten attention over the past couple of weeks, both members of our legendary English department:

First, Gary Schmidt, who teaches creative writing here at Calvin, is a much-lauded author of fiction for young people--and a regular hit in the Smith house. His earlier books Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and The Wednesday Wars were both Newberry Honor books. And then this year, his new novel, Okay for Now, was nominated for a National Book Award! Yeah, he's kind of a big deal. And he gladly and masterfully teaches eager undergraduates at Calvin College.

Second, Lew Klatt is a colleague of Gary's in our English Department where Lew specializes in poetry. His first collection, Interloper, won the Juniper Prize and his most recent collection, Cloud of Ink, was awarded the prestigious Iowa Poetry Prize. And the accolades just keep coming. Most recently his poem, "Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91," which first appeared in The Believer, has been selected for inclusion in The Best American Poetry of 2011 AND was made into a fantastic short film.

To see that film, hear the poem, and hear Klatt's reflections on "The Artifice of Eternity: Notes Toward a Christian Poetics," enjoy this video of a recent lecture:

The Artifice of Eternity from Calvin College on Vimeo.