Tuesday, June 25, 2013

'Show' places in six-way tie behind Louise Erdrich

The Greatest Show was recently named one of six finalists for the Paterson Prize for Fiction, an award won this year by Louise Erdrich and her novel, The Round House. The Round House also won the National Book Award, proving once again that Erdrich is, well, phenomenal. For years I've been teaching her first book, Love Medicine, to students at Towson University, and every time the book astonishes me in fresh ways. I'll be glad to open The Round House, too.

The other finalists for the Paterson Prize include
All That I Am (HarperCollins) by Anna Funder
Girlchild (FSG) by Tupelo Hassman
The Collective (W.W. Norton) by Don Lee
The Lower River (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Paul Theroux
Fat Girl, Terrestrial (University of Alabama Press) by Kellie Wells.

The Paterson Prize is awarded by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Thank God we are always surprised

The Maryland State Arts Council asked me to give a keynote talk for its reception honoring artists who'd received grants from the agency this year. They didn't tell me I'd have to follow Blessed Sheriff, a 15-year-old poetry-reciting phenom.

But follow Blessed I did, and true to my name, (which, you'll recall is Downs as in downer), I chose to meditate on what it means to celebrate art and artists in a time of Boston Marathon bombings and Sandy Hook shootings. Baltimore Fishbowl, an energetic news site that I love to read, published my remarks.

If you have only time for one, choose Blessed. She's something.