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NMSU English professors win Guggenheim fellowships

Novelist Antonya Nelson and poet Tony Hoagland, New Mexico State University English department faculty members, have been awarded prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships.

Tony Hoagland and Antonya Nelson (Photo by Margaretta Mitchell)

This year 182 fellows -- only 15 of them poets or writers -- were selected from 2,900 artists, scholars and scientists who applied from the United States and Canada. The fellowships provide unrestricted cash awards of about a year's salary. Awards are based on distinguished achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.

Nelson is the author of three short-story collections and the novels "Talking in Bed," "Nobody's Girl," and the forthcoming "Living to Tell." The New Yorker magazine has named her one of the 20 best young fiction writers in America. She has won the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Award, the Flannery O'Connor Award and PEN/Nelson Algren Award.

"Living to Tell," which will be published in May in hardcover by Scribner, has been selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club and will be a Quality Paperback. In the novel Nelson's characters are three generations of a family who live in a sprawling house in Wichita, Kan., her hometown.

Nelson is one of 30 writers invited by The New Yorker to give readings this May at the magazine's 75th anniversary celebration. In August she will read at the renowned Breadloaf Conference in Vermont as the conference also marks its 75th anniversary.

Nelson next plans a novel that explores the contemporary American West. "I've been in the West a long time and I've not been satisfied with the way the West is written about," she said. Nelson will set the novel in Telluride, Colo., where she and her husband, the novelist Robert Boswell, have for many years spent their summers writing.

Hoagland is the author of the poetry collections "Donkey Gospel" and "Sweet Ruin." His poems have been included in the Best American Poems and Pushcart Prize anthologies. He also has won a 2000 Jenny McKeen Moore Fellowship sponsored by George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He will leave NMSU to spend a year in the Capitol city writing poetry and leading a community writing workshop. Then he will join the University of Pittsburgh's faculty.

"I'm sorry to leave the West and my friends here," said Hoagland, who grew up in many places as an "Army brat" and earned a master of fine arts degree at the University of Arizona. "Since I've been in the West, my poems are unbelievably full of light effects and sunsets," he said.

The Guggenheim, Hoagland said, will allow him to travel to China and India, places he hasn't yet visited. "I'd like to get outside of America, get an outside perspective."

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was established in 1925 by U.S. Sen. Simon Guggenheim and his wife as a memorial to a son who died in 1922. Since 1925 the foundation has granted more than $192 million in fellowships to nearly 15,000 individuals. This year the awards total more than $6.3 million.

Scores of Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and eminent scientists appear on the roll of Guggenheim fellows, which includes Ansel Adams, Aaron Copland, Henry Kissinger, Martha Graham and Eudora Welty. A complete list of this year's fellows is on the Web at www.gf.org.

Photos are available at http://kiernan.nmsu.edu/newsphoto.
For a print, call (505) 646-3221.
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CUTLINE: Tony Hoagland (Photo by Margaretta Mitchell)

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CUTLINE: Antonya Nelson

Rita A. Popp
April 26, 2000