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2019–2020 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship

The University of Washington Press (job number 176703), University of Chicago Press (JR07717), Cornell University Press (job number WDR-00022497), MIT Press (job number 18525), Northwestern University Press (job number 38451) and Ohio State University Press (Jobs) are now accepting applications for the 2019–2020 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program. The program seeks to increase diversity in scholarly publishing by providing fourteen-month fellowships in the acquisitions departments of the six university presses with the support of the Association of University Presses and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Search committees will begin reviewing applications after March 15, 2020. Selected fellows will be notified by April 15, 2020, to begin the fourteen-month fellowship on June 1, 2020.

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Marilyn Trueblood

Members of the UW Press community will be saddened to learn of the death of Marilyn Trueblood, who retired from the press in 2013. Marilyn passed away on January 25 after a brief battle with leukemia.

Over nearly four decades at UWP, Marilyn advanced through several editorial roles to become managing editor. Her training as an anthropologist, commitment to social justice, and broad interest in the arts and humanities informed both her intellectual engagement with the many books she handled and her personal relations with authors. Marilyn always did the right thing—whether it was going the extra mile to polish a manuscript, helping a colleague, or supporting a humanitarian cause. Her warmth and generosity inspired camaraderie across departments, and she was beloved by authors, with many of whom she maintained lifelong friendships. Marilyn’s grace, kindness, and spirit will be fondly remembered by all who knew her.

A Seattle Times obituary provides details about Marilyn’s rich and productive life. She is survived by her husband, former UWP director Pat Soden.

Marilyn Trueblood

 

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University of Washington Press books make great gifts! (And there is no shame in buying a book as a gift for yourself, either.)

Order online at www.uwapress.uw.edu and enter promo code WHOL19 to save 40% on all press titles.* Receive free shipping on orders over $75.00. Discounts valid through the end of the year.

*offer excludes titles from our publishing partners

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A Q&A with Poet David Biespiel

For National Poetry Month, we are pleased to share a conversation with poet David Biespiel, author of Republic Cafe.


It’s Monday, 10am. Would you tell us your motto for writing poems?

My motto would be, writing poems is impossible. That’s my motto. It’s impossible for me to do anything else, first of all, but to write poems. But, to write a poem? What is that? What is a poem? Every effort to write a poem is as much a soaring success as it is a terrible flub. It’s impossible to write in the direction I want to write, because as soon as I get close to that point on the horizon I’ve been aiming toward, what I’ve been trying to write appears different to me. Everything I’ve been doing, therefore, is wrong. A failure. In a catalogue essay from the 1960s of a MOMA exhibition of Alberto Giacometti’s work, there’s this opening paragraph in Peter Selz’s introduction:

‘To render what the eye sees is impossible,’ Giacometti repeated one evening while we were seated at dinner at the inn at Stampa. He explained that he could really not see me as I sat next to him—I was a conglomeration of vague and disconnected details—but that each member of the family sitting across the room was clearly visible, though diminutive, thin, surrounded by enormous slices of space. Everyone before him in the whole history of art, he continued, had always represented the figure as it is; his task now was to break down tradition and come to grips with the optical phenomenon of reality. What is the relationship of the figure to the enveloping space, of man to the void, even of being to nothingness?

That about covers it—for writing. It’s impossible. And, that’s exactly what makes it so freeing, so enticing.

What led you to become a writer? And, specifically a poet?

I recently published a book on this subject, The Education of a Young Poet. I think I became a writer because I liked messing around with words, with sentences. I liked the feel of moving a verb from the front of a sentence to the end. I liked feeling curious about whether I should end a sentence on a noun, or start with a noun. I liked seeing the figure of ideas and images form, from one word to the next, one phrase and one clause to the next, one sentence and one paragraph to the next. That’s what I liked and what I still like at the most tactile/DNA level of writing. Writing a poem is all of that on steroids. Now, with a poem, too, you have lines to enhance even more new relationships between adjective and noun, for instance. It’s mind-blowing.

As for why I became a poet? Writing poems, for me—because I write poems and nonfiction—I find that poetry offers greater velocity than prose and also poetry dwells more deeply in metaphor. Speed plus associative feeling. That’s two things that draw me to write poems. Underneath all that is an interest in asking questions that, perhaps, poetry can reflect upon. Writing Republic Cafe I was interested in the importance of forgetting, as opposed to the more traditional interest in the importance of remembering. So I was writing the poem—the long poem that’s the centerpiece of the book—to reflect upon that question. And yet, that’s the paradox. The close I got to dramatizing what I was forgotten, I began to see it, or remember  it, differently. So the book is trying to figure out what to make of that enigma.

Did you write the book in Portland?

Mostly, yes. In late 2012, during the production period for Charming Gardeners, which UW Press published in 2014, I began taking notes and studying the patterns of Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour in Portland. Then, in the fall of 2014, I went to West Texas and wrote for a month without interruption. That’s where I drafted the book. I worked on it for several years after that, and then, in late 2017, I put the book through a big revision after Linda Bierds read it. I did that revision in my house here in Portland over several weeks.

Many writers begin their career with teachers and models. Republic Cafe is your sixth book of poems since 1996. Did you have a model when you first started to write? Do you now?

When I first started to write, I was mostly alone. Not alone in the world—well, not entirely alone in the world, I mean—but alone with my books, with paper and pen. No teachers. I had no guidance. Later I studied with several wonderful poets. At the University of Maryland I studied with Stanley Plumly, Michael Collier, and Phillis Levin. At Stanford, when I was a Stegner fellow, I studied with W.S. Di Piero and Ken Fields. Because Stan Plumly introduced my first book, I suppose I’m most identified with him, and I’m extremely grateful to have studied with him. Truth be told I still learn things from him. From him personally—we’ve remained close for thirty years. And especially through his poems, which are remarkable for their warmth and tenderness. Before those teachers came along, and ever since, I would say Walt Whitman has been a model for me. I don’t mean the man so much—not to dismiss the man, that is, but I mean the writing. His engagement as a poet with language and life. The nexus of self and society that is the hallmark of his poetry. I’ve learned from Whitman that while images never become out-of-fashion or obsolete, blow-hardedness does. Commentaries do. Explaining or psychoanalyzing kills invention. Kills metaphor. Kills freshness. What’s so great about Whitman is he still feels contemporary. It’s the 200th anniversary of his birth this year, and he still feels in touch with our own time. Whitman doesn’t try to explain his motivations. Instead he conveys a consciousness. That’s the thing I’ve most tried to learn from Whitman. To write a poem is to invent a consciousness. But, of course, it’s impossible.


Biespiel photo 2David Biespiel is a poet, critic, memoirist, and contributing to writer to American Poetry Review, New Republic, the New York Times, Poetry, Politico, The Rumpus, and Slate. He is poet-in-residence at Oregon State University, faculty member in the Rainier Writers Workshop, and president of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters. He has received NEA and Lannan fellowships and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Balakian Award. He has previously published The Education of a Young Poet, Wild Civility, The Book of Men and Women, and Charming Gardeners. You can buy his most recent collection, Republic Cafe by clicking here.

In Memoriam: Leroy (Lee) Soper

Lee-Soper

Leroy Soper, photograph by Mary Randlett.

Leroy (Lee) Soper, a longtime member of the University of Washington Press advisory board, passed away on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, the eve of his ninety-second birthday.

University of Washington Press director Nicole Mitchell notes, “Lee was an ardent supporter of books generally and the University of Washington Press in particular. We were incredibly fortunate to have Lee’s support over the decades, and his presence will be greatly missed not only by the press and Seattle’s literary community, but also by book buyers and readers throughout the region.”

Lee began his career at the Walla Walla Bookshop in 1952 and worked for the University Book Store from 1959 to 1969. He left to establish the Raymar Northwest Book Company, the first large-scale regional book wholesaler in the Pacific Northwest. By offering timely access to stock, Lee’s wholesale business was key to helping bookstores across the region expand and flourish.

Lee returned to the University Book Store in 1977 as general book manager, and he remained there until he retired in 1993. He founded the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, still a dynamic resource for bookstores, booksellers, librarians, and media around the region, and he was a member of the American Booksellers Association. Lee helped judge the Governor’s Writers Award (now the Washington State Book Award), and he served on the University of Washington Press advisory board for twenty-six years, from its founding in 1988, helping the press earn its worldwide reputation as a leading publisher of high-quality academic and regional trade books.

Former University of Washington Press director Pat Soden writes, “Leroy Soper was Seattle’s ‘Mr. Books.’ He was an extraordinary bookman and dear friend to the generation of publishers and booksellers he trained and mentored. The general book department of the University Book Store is the monument Lee built, but his lasting legacy is the great book town Seattle has become. I will miss him beyond words.”

The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City

Burke-PortlandBlackPanthersFrom Ferguson, Missouri to Flint, Michigan, African American communities across the nation continue to struggle for the same basic rights, protections, and social services demanded by the civil rights movement exactly a half century ago. In their timely new book, The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City, authors Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson Jeffries remind us of an earlier case of concerned citizens, in a similarly overlooked black community, who took matters into their own hands when they felt they weren’t being heard by local leaders. While most of us easily associate the Black Panthers with berets and bullet belts, Burke and Jeffries show us that the Portland branch, which was much smaller than its more infamous counterparts in the Bay area, was more concerned with taking care of neighborhood kids and opening a free health clinic for the community.

Though there definitely are stories of violence, angry protests, police brutality, and other more dramatic episodes in their book, the excerpt I’ve chosen focuses on the group’s early attempts (before it was an official Black Panther branch) to start a free breakfast program for kids in the Albina district. I chose this passage for several reasons. For starters, it’s a warm, “feel good” moment that demonstrates the Portland Panthers’ ability to build community, countering the stereotype that portrays them only as angry and combative. Instead, we see Kent Ford and other Portland Panthers working to secure food donations, and organizing early morning schedules for cooks and servers, actions that clearly take a great deal of planning and effort. Secondly, we see through the press coverage how the Portland branch challenged those very preconceived notions about the Black Panthers. Reporters came in expecting militant ideology and instead found pancakes and syrup.

Finally, I chose this particular excerpt because it also speaks to the vision of the Panthers. Providing free breakfast to school kids might seem like a minor thing, but, as they argued, the idea that everyone is entitled to a healthy diet is truly a revolutionary concept. These days that concept is known as the “food justice” movement, but, as the authors show, it was being fought for in Portland long before it had an official name. Though the Portland Black Panthers branch dissolved by the 1980s, its legacy lives on in the city through the various activist groups fighting for fair housing, living wages, environmental justice, and an end to police brutality, among other issues. By shining the spotlight on the little known Portland Black Panther branch, Burke and Jeffries show us how even the smallest group—in the unlikeliest of places—can affect major change by building up its community and relentlessly pushing back against the powers that be.

Ranjit Arab, Senior Editor

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City, by Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson Jeffries:

Even though they were not yet card-carrying members of the Black Panther Party, NCCF (National Committee to Combat Fascism) members in Portland worked diligently in the fall of 1969 to establish a free breakfast program for school kids. “The government had money to fight a war thousands and thousands of miles away . . . and send astronauts to the moon,” Kent Ford said, “but ensuring that kids received a well-balanced meal before heading off to school was not a priority . . . so the Panthers made it a priority.” In 1967, the US government spent a mere $600,000 on breakfast programs nationwide. But as more and more Panther branches started their own free breakfast programs, government-sponsored breakfast initiatives proliferated. By 1972, government-sponsored breakfast programs were feeding more than a million children of the approximately five million who qualified for such aid.

Doing the work of a Panther without being acknowledged as a Panther frustrated some of the Portland members. Their community survival initiatives, among other things, were indicative of the NCCF’s burning desire and commitment to be recognized as full-fledged Panthers. Becoming an official Panther came with a tremendous amount of responsibility, but to some it was not significantly different from what they had become accustomed to doing as members of the NCCF. Oscar Johnson remembers how he structured his days around Panther activities: “My work as a Panther was not all that different than what I was doing as a member of the NCCF. I worked nights, so I was the driver. I’d finish my shift and pick up kids who needed a ride to breakfast. Go home and sleep. We solicited cash and food from neighborhood businesses in the afternoon and attended political education classes at night. It felt good. . . . We were doing something. We had the respect of the community.” Drawing on a small but diverse group of young working-class and student activists, these African American men and women used a variety of networks and connections to build a robust breakfast program. The Portland NCCF made the announcement that it was going to start a free breakfast program at a community meeting. “From the outset, people were receptive to the program,” said Black Panther Patty (Hampton) Carter. Believing the program to be a worthwhile endeavor, Rev. Samuel L. Johnson, head pastor of the Highland United Church of Christ, offered his church as the venue for the program. The church, located at 4635 NE Ninth Ave, was ideal, as it was spacious, met building and health code inspections, and was in close proximity to Martin Luther King Elementary School, which was located at 4906 NE Sixth Avenue. One week into the 1969–70 school year, NCCF members distributed leaflets (outlining the schedule, goals, and objective of the free breakfast program) to various community groups and passed them out to kids as they walked to and from school. Ford remembered that “people were so supportive of the program. . . . Rev. Johnson didn’t charge us a dime . . . neither did the Wonder Bread company that gave us fifty loaves of bread each week, no questions asked . . . then there was this one nice lady who (within a month of starting the breakfast program) came in one day with seventy-five cartons of eggs. When I attempted to pay her for her trouble, she turned me down flat saying, ‘You guys are doing good work.’ ”

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Q&A with ‘Living Together, Living Apart’ co-editor April Schueths

Immigration reform remains one of the most contentious issues in the United States today. For mixed status families–families that include both citizens and noncitizens–this is more than a political issue: it’s a deeply personal one. Undocumented family members and legal residents lack the rights and benefits of their family members who are US citizens, while family members and legal residents sometimes have their rights compromised by punitive immigration policies based on a strict “citizen/noncitizen” dichotomy.

The personal narratives and academic essays in Living Together, Living Apart: Mixed Status Families and US Immigration Policy are among the first to focus on the daily lives and experiences, as well as the broader social contexts, for mixed status families in the contemporary United States. Threats of raids, deportation, incarceration, and detention loom large over these families. At the same time, their lives are characterized by the resilience, perseverance, and resourcefulness necessary to maintain strong family bonds, both within the United States and across national boundaries.

April Schueths is associate professor of sociology at Georgia Southern University, a licensed social worker, and co-editor with Jodie Lawston of this important forthcoming volume. In this first of two planned Q&As with the co-editors, April Schueths discusses how she came to study mixed-status families and how Living Together, Living Apart came to be.

Q: What inspired you to get into sociology?

April Schueths: Growing up I constantly asked questions and my family always said I cared ‘too much’ about others. Being raised in a traditional working class family I was able to see how socio-economic status, gender, and race impacted peoples’ life chances. This understanding, along with my desire to help others, led me to a career as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker where I worked with individuals, families, communities, and policy. While working on my PhD in sociology at the University of Nebraska I had the privilege of joining the Latino Research Initiative (LRI), a university-community partnership focused on meeting the needs of the Latino community. This supportive group is where I started my research with mixed-status families.

Q: What would you have been if not an academic?

April Schueths: If I hadn’t become an academic I would have probably worked in student affairs, public policy, or a non-profit advocacy group like Appleseed. It’s always been important for me to find ways to challenge unequal power structures with the goal of improving peoples’ lives, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Q: What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about your field and what you do?

April Schueths: Immigration policy is inherently complex. Unfortunately the public often relies on incorrect (and often hateful) media stereotypes that stigmatize immigrants, especially individuals without legal status. Many people don’t realize that harsh immigration policy impacts US citizens. In reality deportation policies have negative consequences for both immigrants and citizens. Mixed-status families often live in fear, face separation, or are forced to live transnationally. Another misconception is that if a person who is undocumented marries a citizen, their legal status will automatically be adjusted and that all of their immigration problems will be resolved. However, immigrants who’ve lived in the US without legal status are automatically barred from living here for a certain amount of time–sometimes life–even when married to a citizen or when they are parents to citizen children.

Q: Why did you want to put together Living Together, Living Apart?

April Schueths: In my social work practice and research I learned just how many families were impacted by punitive immigration policies. I felt compelled to make their experiences known. Thus it was especially important to include the narratives written by individuals in mixed-status families, along with the academic chapters. Most people not connected to these issues have very little understanding of the hardships mixed-status families face, and in many cases their positions are based on incorrect stereotypes. After reading this collection, I hope that readers understand how complex the issues of immigration and family are, but most importantly I want people to empathize with families and to see that their human rights are often violated. I want people to care.

Q: What are you reading right now?

April Schueths: Recently I’ve read Everyday Illegal: When Policies Undermine Immigrant Families by Joanna Dreby, and Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans by Luis Zaya, both of which I highly recommend. For fun I’m also reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg.