Archive for November, 2009

More Recognition for Lesley Wheeler’s Poetry

Lesley Wheeler, professor and head of the English department at Washington and Lee, has been honored by Barrow Street Press, a small, poetry-only press in New York City with a high reputation among poets. Lesley’s manuscript Heterotopia was named the winner of the 2009 Barrow Street Poetry Book Prize.  Contemporary American poet David Wojahn, who currently directs the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth, selected Lesley’s manuscript. The contest generally draws about 600 applicants each year, and, as the winning manuscript, Heterotopia will be published by Barrow Street.  Here’s one of Lesley’s poems:

Inland Song

In some kind houses the doors
never quite shut. Every table
hosts a bowl of eggs—wooden ones
or striped stone, cool to touch.

What could grow in an egg like that?
A day becomes a story becomes a bird,
a lost seagull who shrinks each time
I describe him. Watch him fold

his filigree wings, crawl into
the shell. His song wasn’t much,
but he tries to swallow it,
as if he can retreat

to an ornamental state
of potential. This is not possible,
even in an inland village named
Barnacle. Just brush your fingers

over the eggs as you leave,
memorize the feel of the grain.
The paths are thick with nettles,
but if they sting, rub the blisters

with a fistful of dock. Pain
and consolation grow next
to each other, in some kind
countries. House and wing.

Remembering Todd Smith

Todd C. Smith

It’s been a little more than 20 years ago now that Todd Smith was killed in South America, apparently by cocaine traffickers. And it’s been a little more than 26 years ago that Todd graduated from Washington and Lee after majoring in English and serving as co-editor of the Ring-tum Phi. But a column in the Nov. 20 Tampa Tribune last week  20 years t0 the day since Todd’s death — brought Todd’s story back to life in a powerful way. Tribune writer Steve Otto wrote of Todd: “He had an enormous appetite for news and it was not confined to local county commissions. He wanted to write on a global scale.” Otto’s description can be paired with something that was written immediately after Todd’s death in 1989. A story in the St. Petersburg Times on Nov. 22, 1989, began: “At a dinner two years ago before Todd C. Smith left two years ago to cover the Nicaraguan civil war, a colleague offered a simple toast. ‘To Todd Smith,’ said a St. Petersburg Times reporter, ‘who had the guts to do what the rest of us just talked about doing.'” Todd is remembered at W&L through the memorial fellowship fund established in 1990 and designed to reflect Todd’s interest in promoting understanding of foreign issues and cultures through journalism. Todd and his story need to remembered.

W&L Law Grad Is Virginia’s Business Person of the Year

Shawn Boyer

Shawn Boyer, a 1997 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law, says that “…you can never let your mind go to, ‘What if it doesn’t work?’” And Shawn certainly put that maxim in motion, creating in August 1999 and then riding the roller-coaster of good dot-com times and bad to that point that he has just been named Virginia Business Person of the Year by Virginia Business magazine. Of course, in some respects, the Virginia Business honor is small potatoes for Shawn after he was named the Small Business Association’s National Small Business Person of the Year in 2008 and picked up his award from former President George W. Bush, who was about to be out of a job himself. As the Virginia Business article reports, the former president said of Shawn: “I asked him to leave a business card. Seems like I might be looking, after awhile.” After W&L, Shaw practiced law with Brown & Wood LLP (now Sidley Austin, LLP) and Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, LLP, prior to starting, which is the largest part-time and hourly job-posting site in the nation. Here’s a link to the Virginia Business Person of the Year story.

Poetry and W&L Poets

Here’s some recent news about two Washington and Lee poets: First, today’s Poem of the Day on Poetry Daily is “Shades” by R.T. Smith, editor of Shenandoah and writer-in-residence at W&L. The poem was originally published in the Sewanee Review, and you can read it here. Meanwhile, the blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, has an interview with Washington and Lee alumnus Temple Cone, of the Class of 1995. Temple, whose first book of poetry, No Loneliness, was noted here last August, is an associate professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy. In his first answer to the interviewers question, Temple offers this answer: “I love telling people that I’m a poet. Just a poet.” Read the entire interview here.

Hotchkiss Heads University Development Office

Julie Hotchkiss

Julie Hotchkiss, a 1989 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, has just been named director of development at the Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend, Oregon. The appointment is effective in early January. OSU-Cascades is the first branch campus in the Oregon University System. Julie has been working in nonprofit development for more than 17 years. She was most recently with the Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend and was with the High Desert Museum for 10 years before that. Julie began her development work in Charlotte, N.C., where she had gone to practice law. Her first job in development was as director of planned giving for Queens University in Charlotte. Julie comes by her success in development honestly, of course, since her father, Farris Hotchkiss, led W&L’s development operation for more than three decades prior to his retirement in 2001.

Drive Safer Nov. 29 in Memory of Cullum Owings ’03

Cullum Owings

On the Sunday following Thanksgiving in 2002, Cullum and Pierce Owings were driving from their home in Atlanta back to Lexington where both were students at Washington and Lee. The brothers were three miles from the Lexington exit on I-81 north when their car was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. Cullum, a senior business administration major, died in the accident; Pierce ’06, a freshman at the time, had only minor injuries. Sunday, Nov. 29, will mark the fifth annual national observance of Drive Safer Sunday in America. The event is sponsored by Road Safe America, an organization founded by Cullum and Pierce’s parents, Stephen and Susan Owings of Atlanta, in Cullum’s honor. The organization is designed to bring awareness of the hazards of highway travel and provide statistics and safety tips to drivers. Its goals include better driver training for all drivers and limiting the top speed for large trucks. The Road Safe America Web site includes an electronic petition, urging the administration to order activation of speed governors set at 65 mph on all large commercial vehicles. The site also features a video in which the Owingses tell their story. Be careful on the highways this holiday.