About the Graham W. Smith ’48 Fund
To honor the memory of Graham Wood Smith ’48 and to celebrate and promote writing at Nichols School, the George G. & Elizabeth G. Smith Foundation started the Graham W. Smith ’48 Fund.
Established to award a Chair to a deserving member of the Nichols English Department, the Graham W. Smith ’48 Chair will enable the recipient to fund a visiting writer or writers to come to Nichols to work with students with a particular interest in writing. It is the responsibility of the recipient of the Chair to arrange for the visiting authors, who are known as the Smith Visiting Fellows.
Larry Desautels, Upper School English teacher and longtime faculty member, currently holds the position of Graham W. Smith ’48 Chair.
On Monday, March 11, and Tuesday, March 12, Nichols hosted Smith Visiting Fellow, Jill McCorkle, a celebrated writer who has the distinction of having her first two novels published on the same day in 1984. Of these novels, The New York Times Book Review said, “One suspects the author of ‘The Cheer Leader’ is a born novelist, with ‘July 7th,’ she is also a full grown one.” Since then she has published three other novels—her latest, “Life After Life” will be released in March—and four collections of short stories.
In addition to working with Upper School students in English classes, Ms. McCorkle addressed students and faculty at a special Morning Meeting on Tuesday, March 12. That evening, she gave a reading at 7:00 p.m. at Talking Leaves, located at 3158 Main St., in Buffalo.
Five of Ms. McCorkle’s books have been named New York Times notable books. She has received the New England Booksellers Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature and the North Carolina Award for Literature. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Four of her stories have been tabbed for “Best American Short Stories” and several have been collected in “New Stories from the South.” Her short stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Oxford American, The Southern Review, Narrative Magazine and The American Scholar among others. Her story, “Intervention,” is included in the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. An essay, “Cuss Time,” originally published in The American Scholar was selected for Best American Essays. Other essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Garden and Gun, Southern Living, Our State, Allure and Real Simple.
“Life After Life” is Ms. McCorkle’s first novel in 17 years. The story is alive with the daily triumphs and challenges of the residents and staff of Pine Haven Estates, a retirement facility now home to many of Fulton, North Carolina’s older citizens. Among them, third-grade teacher Sadie Randolph, who has taught every child in town and believes we are all eight years old in our hearts; Stanley Stone, once Fulton’s most prominent lawyer, now feigning dementia to escape life with his son; Marge Walker, the town’s self-appointed conveyor of social status who keeps a scrapbook of every local murder and heinous crime; and Rachel Silverman, recently widowed, whose decision to leave her Massachusetts home and settle in Fulton is a mystery to everyone but her. C.J., the pierced and tattooed young mother who runs the beauty shop, and Joanna, the hospice volunteer who discovers that her path to a good life lies with helping folks achieve good deaths, are two of the staff on whom the residents depend.
Ms. McCorkle puts her finger on the pulse of every character’s strengths, weaknesses and secrets. And, as she connects their lives through their present circumstances, their pasts, and, in some cases, their deaths, she celebrates the blessings and wisdom of later life and infuses this remarkable novel with hope and laughter.
“There’s talk about magic in this wonderful novel, and Jill McCorkle displays her own sleight of hand in delivering a powerful message in such a subtle and beautiful way.” —Elizabeth Berg, author of “The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted” and “Once Upon a Time, There Was”
“Like Flannery O’Connor, McCorkle’s genius is to give us both philosophical speculation and a riveting narrative filled with unforgettable characters. Great writing, poignancy, humor, wisdom—all are in abundance here. Jill McCorkle is one of the South’s greatest writers; she is also one of America’s.”—Ron Rash, author of “Serena” and “The Cove”
Ms. McCorkle has taught at UNC-Chapel Hill, Tufts and Brandeis where she was the Fannie Hurst Visiting Writer. She was a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard for five years where she also chaired Creative Writing. She currently teaches creative writing in the MFA Program at NC State University and is a core faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars. She is a frequent instructor in the Sewanee Summer Writers Program.
She lives with her husband, photographer Tom Rankin, in Hillsborough, N.C.
We were very fortunate to host Ms. McCorkle!
|Shara McCallum and Tim Seibles|
On October 9 − 10, 2012, Nichols hosted Shara McCallum and Tim Seibles, as the 2012 Smith Visiting Fellows. The distinguished pair of writers will work with English classes, give readings and address the student body.
Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Ms. McCallum is the author of four books of poetry: “The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems,” “This Strange Land,” a finalist for the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, “Song of Thieves” and “The Water Between Us,” winner of the 1998 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for Poetry. Currently, she is Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry and Professor of English at Bucknell University.
Her poems have appeared in journals in the US, the UK, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Israel, have been reprinted in textbooks and anthologies of American, African American, Caribbean and World Literatures, and have been translated into Spanish and Romanian. Her personal essays have been published in The Antioch Review, Creative Nonfiction, Witness and elsewhere.
For her poetry, she has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cave Canem, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, individual artist grants from the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, an international writers residency at the Heinrich Boll Cottage (Ireland) and an Academy of American Poets Prize.
Ms. McCallum has served as permanent faculty in the MFA program at the University of Memphis and the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine, as a Visiting Professor at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados and as visiting faculty for the Drew Low-Residency MFA Program, the Catskill Poetry Workshop, the West Virginia Writers Workshop, the Frost Place, Writers at the Beach and the Chautauqua Writer’s Center.
Mr. Seibles, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., was born in Philadelphia in 1955. He has an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Norwich University and a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University. He teaches Creative Writing and Literature, and serves as the liaison between the faculty and athletic department. He has published several collections of poetry, including “Fast Animal,” “Hurdy-Gurdy,” “Hammerlock” and “Buffalo Head Solos.”
His poems have been published in New Letters, Red Brick Review, Dark Eros, Ploughshares, New England Review, The Artful Dodge and more, including an anthology called “In Search of Color Everywhere.” His poem, “Allison Wolff” was included in “The Best American Poetry 2010” anthology.
Mr. Seibles has led a variety of workshops and received several fellowships over the years, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Fellow. He also is a past recipient of the Open Voice Award from the National Writers Voice Project.
Past Chancellor of The Fellowship of Southern Writers, Richard Bausch currently serves as The Moss Chair of Excellence in the Writing Program at The University of Memphis. He visited Nichols on Oct. 11 and 12, 2010.
A Georgia native, Mr. Bausch is the author of 11 novels and eight collections of stories, including the novels “Rebel Powers,” “In The Night Season,” “Hello To The Cannibals,” “Thanksgiving Night” and “Peace”; and the story collections “Spirits,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “The Stories of Richard Bausch,” “Wives & Lovers: 3 Short Novels” and most recently, “Something is Out There.”
His novel, “The Last Good Time,” was made into a feature-length motion picture that was directed by Bob Balaban. An acknowledged master of the short story form, Mr. Bausch’s work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, The New Yorker, Playboy, The Southern Review, The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize Stories.
Mr. Bausch has won two National Magazine Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Writer’s Award, the Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2004 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, and, for Peace, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
While at Nichols, Mr. Bausch will present at an Upper School Morning Meeting and work with English classes. Students also will have the opportunity to meet with him in smaller groups and one-on-one to discuss their writing.
To honor the memory of Graham Wood Smith ’48 and to celebrate and promote writing at Nichols School, the George G. & Elizabeth G. Smith Foundation started the Graham W. Smith ’48 Fund. Established to award a Chair to a deserving member of the Nichols English Department, the Graham W. Smith ’48 Chair will enable the recipient to fund a visiting writer or writers to come to Nichols to work with students with a particular interest in writing. It is the responsibility of the recipient of the chair to arrange for the visiting authors, who are known as the Smith Visiting Fellows.
|Dr. Judy Rowe Michaels|
Dr. Michaels is artist-in-residence and an English teacher at Princeton Day School, and a poet-in-the-schools for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. She is the author of two outstanding collections of poetry, "The Forest of Wild Hands" and "Reviewing the Skill," and wrote two books about teaching adolescents.
Dr. Michaels spoke at a special Upper School Morning Meeting on Wednesday, May 5, and read several of her poems. Mary Jane Smith, who helped establish and fund the Graham W. Smith '48 Fund, attended the special assembly as well. Judy is a friend and colleague of Liza Smith Morehouse, from Princeton Day School, who is Mary Jane and Graham Smith's daughter. Liza got in touch with Larry Desautels, English teacher and Graham W. Smith '48 Chair, about Judy and encouraged us to get her.
Dr. Michaels opened with a poem called "Jazz Sister," which she wrote about her sister, a jazz pianist and talented off the cuff performer, who she deemed "a tough act to follow," although she is her younger sister. Her second selection was "Introducing the Skull," which grew out of a writing exercise she did with a junior/senior elective class of hers, involving a human skull they borrowed from the biology lab at school. The poem captured the students' candid reactions to observing and handling the genuine female skull – and reactions to one another while examining the specimen.
Open about her repeated ovarian cancer diagnoses, Dr. Michaels told the story behind "What's the Difference Between?" which was written about her husband doing Internet research following her second diagnosis. In the poem, she shares several of the 'viola jokes' he found, which she said, "you need when you have cancer." Ranging from hilarious to delightfully corny to raunchy, the jokes in the poem were a huge hit with the audience. After she finished her reading, Dr. Michaels said, "That one was fun. I felt I was sort of thumbing my nose at cancer…"
She went on to deliver a witty and tender selection, "Picking the Olives Out," about her dislike of olives of all kinds. Following that, she read "Say 'Yes,' People," to commemorate the anniversary of the Kent State Shootings in 1970. She wrote this thought-provoking poem about one of her icons and called it, "the closest I've ever come to a political poem."
Next, she read "Recurrence Suite," which looks at having recurrences of cancer and having trouble believing the surgeon's diagnosis, particularly the grim numbers about survival. The poem had several parts and she said Part IV first, followed by Part III, because she said she's more optimistic now. By reading the simply beautiful poem, "Waiting for News," second, she left the subject matter on a positive and hopeful note.
Dr. Michaels closed with "Café Mews," named for a restaurant on the water in Provincetown and written in honor of her brother, whom she lost to suicide. She told the audience that he had never been to the restaurant with her, but she knew he would love it.Click here to also watch video of her visit
Baron Wormser, the first Smith Visiting Fellow, visited Nichols during the week of Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. Recently the state poet of Maine, Wormser is a busy writer, known for his poetry, short story collections and a new memoir about living off the grid in Maine for 25 years.
As Robert Finch of The Boston Globe described "The Road Washes Out in Spring," Wormser's latest work: "All in all, this is the best book about rural New England life since Jane Brox's 'Here and Nowhere Else.' Its scope is narrow but its reach is vast."
Wormser also will work with students in Upper and Middle School classes this week.
Baron Wormser was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1948. He grew up in Baltimore and went to high school at Baltimore City College and to college at the Johns Hopkins University. He did graduate studies at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Maine.
In 1970 he moved to Maine with his wife Janet. For twenty-five years he worked as a librarian for SAD 59 in Madison, Maine. Also he taught poetry writing at the University of Maine at Farmington. From 1975 to 1998 he lived with his family in Mercer, Maine, in an off-the-grid house on forty-eight acres. His memoir, "The Road Washes Out in Spring: A Poet's Memoir of Living Off the Grid," concerns that experience.
In 2000 he was appointed Poet Laureate of Maine by Governor Angus King. He served in that capacity for six years and visited many libraries and schools throughout Maine. Also he read his poem "Building a House in the Maine Woods, 1971" at Governor Baldacci's inauguration in 2003.
He currently resides in Cabot, Vermont, with his wife. Since 2002 he has taught in the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. He works widely in schools with both students and teachers.
Wormser has received the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry and the Kathryn A. Morton Prize along with fellowships from Bread Loaf, the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2000, he was writer in residence at the University of South Dakota. For eight years, he led the Frost Place Seminar at the Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire.
Award-winning writer, Catherine Staples, visited Nichols on April 16 and 17, 2011, to work with classes in workshops, give a poetry reading and address the student body.
Catherine Staples grew up in Dover, Mass., and still spends part of each summer on Cape Cod. Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Third Coast, Valparaiso, Commonweal, The Michigan Quarterly Review and others.
Ms. Staples was selected by Amy Clampitt for the University of Pennsylvania’s William Carlos Williams Award, is the recipient of two APR Distinguished Poets; Residencies, The New England Poetry Club’s Boyle/ Farber Award and the Southern Poetry Review’s 2011 Guy Owen Prize.
She teaches in the Honors program at Villanova University and lives in Devon, Penn., with her husband and children.
Betsy Sholl selected her chapbook “Never a Note Forfeit” for the 2010 Keystone Chapbook Prize.
Ms. Staples’ first full length collection, “The Rattling Window,” nominated by Eamon Grennan for the Robert McGovern Series, is forthcoming from Ashland Poetry Press in spring of 2013.Visit Catherine's website
Highly acclaimed writer and musician, Wesley Stace a.k.a. John Wesley Harding, spent April 13-14, 2011 at Nichols as the latest Smith Visiting Fellow. The School hosted a public reading in the Boocock Reading Room, as well as a special Upper School Morning Meeting.
Weslet also visited with students in small groups and one-on-one during class visits. He discussed the differences between writing verse and writing music, among other topics.
Wesley’s recently released third novel, an intellectual thriller set in the world of English classical music in the early years of the twentieth century, is receiving excellent reviews already. “Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer” is “A macabre story of the mysterious connections between a critic and a composer, against the backdrop of a turbulent moment in musical history.” Click here to read more about the book on the author’s website.
He also is the author of the international best-seller “Misfortune” and “by George.” He has released 15 albums under the name John Wesley Harding.
Click here to read the recent article in The New York Times, "Whodunit Most Musical by a Musician Most Literary" by Charles McGrath.
Read the recent NPR article, "Stace's 'Jessold': A Well-Orchestrated Murder Mystery" by Michael H. Miller.
Read the recent article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, "His 'life's project': Fusing music and lit" By John Timpane.
Larry Desautels, Upper School English teacher and recipient of the Graham W. Smith ’48 Chair, met Wesley at The Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival. Wesley did a reading and performance and the pair solidified plans for Wesley to visit Nichols this spring.
Interestingly enough, Nichols alumnus, Rob Seidenberg ’78, was Wesley’s first music producer as well. Rob worked with Wesley on the recording of “Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead.”
Click here to also watch video of his performance
The week of Oct. 26-30, 2009, John Calderazzo visited Nichols to speak and work with students, helping with writing techniques, poems and creative publication. His visit was made possible by the Graham W. Smith '48 Fund, which funds renowned writers -- known as the Smith Visiting Fellows -- coming to Nichols to work with students. It also enables a Chair in the English Department. The current Chair is Larry Desautels, who coordinates the writers' visits.
John's stories, essays and poems have appeared in dozens of magazines and literary reviews, including Audubon, Bellevue Literary Review, Georgia Review, North American Review, Orion, The Runner, Witness and elsewhere.
His nonfiction books include an over-the-shoulder nonfiction writing guide "Writing From Scratch: Freelancing"; a children's science book, "101 Questions About Volcanoes"; and "Rising Fire: Volcanoes and Our Inner Lives", a personal travelogue which looks at ways in which volcanoes around the world have affected human culture.
A former fulltime freelance writer and now an award-winning creative writing teacher at Colorado State University, he has had his work cited in both Best American Essays and Best American Stories. He has recently completed a book of poems, "At the Night Window". With his wife SueEllen Campbell, he recently founded and now runs an innovative teaching-climate-change-across-the-curriculum program at CSU.
John's nonfiction students have written or edited for hundreds of publications, including Vanity Fair, Oprah, The New York Times Magazine, Discover, and Popular Science. Their awards include a Pulitzer Prize for newspaper feature writing, a National Book Award finalist selection, and many more.
Watch video of John's visit to Nichols