Assembly Series spotlights a few of Washington University’s finest writers

Washington University is home to many distinguished writers, and the Feb. 5 Assembly Series will feature three of them in a Writers Forum presenting the poetry of Mary Jo Bang and Carl Phillips, and the prose of Richard Watson. The reading, free and open to the public, will be held at 11 a.m. in Graham Chapel, just north of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd.) on the Washington University campuss

Phillips, professor of English and African and Afro-American Studies and former director of the Creative Writing Program, is the highly acclaimed author of six collections of poetry. This past fall he published Rock Harbor. The Tether, written in 2001, brought Phillips the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award which recognizes a poet in mid-career. Pastoral (2000) received the Lambda Literary Award. His 1998 collection, From the Devotions, was a finalist for the National Book Award; Cortege, published in 1995, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lambda Literary Award. His first collection of poetry, In the Blood, won the Morse Poetry Prize.

Phillips’ poems, essays and translations have appeared in numerous journals, including The Nation, Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and several anthologies including The Best American Poetry (1994, 1995, 1996, 2000 editions) and The Best of the Best American Poetry (1989-1998).

In addition to prestigious literary awards, Phillips has garnered awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Academy of American Poets, to name a few. Furthermore, he is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes.

Phillips joined the Washington University faculty in 1993, with teaching stints at Harvard University and the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1995 and 1998, respectively. He holds a bachelor’s. degree in classics from Harvard, and two master’s degrees, one in Latin and classical humanities from the University of Massachusetts and in creative writing from Boston University.

Bang, assistant professor of English in the Creative Writing Program, is also an award-winning poet. Her most recent collection of poems, Louise in Love (2001) received the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America. The Downstream Extremity of the Isle of Swans, also published in 2001, was awarded the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series Competition. Her first book, Apology for Want, published in 1997, received the Bakeless Prize and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award.

Mary Jo Bang
Mary Jo Bang
Bang’s work has also been published in numerous journals, including The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Paris Review, the Partisan Review, Denver Quarterly and New American Writing. In addition, her poems have been published in the Bread Loaf Anthology and Best American Poetry (2001 edition). In 1995 she received a Discovery/The Nation award, and in 1999 she received a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. Bang currently serves as poetry editor for the Boston Review.

Bang received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in sociology from Northwestern University, and a master of fine arts from Columbia University. In addition to her writing, she is an accomplished photographer.

Richard “Red” Watson received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from the University of Iowa, and a M.S. degree in geology from the University of Minnesota. He joined the Washington University faculty in 1964 as an assistant professor in philosophy and was promoted to full professor in1974. He has published extensively in Early Modern Philosophy, the Philosophy of Science, Geology, and Environmental Ethics. He has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Princeton International Center, the Camargo Foundation and the Bogliasco Foundation.

Watson has published 15 books including three novels: Under Plowman’s Floor, The Runner, and Niagara, the French translation of which was a candidate for the Prix de l’Astrolabe at the Saint-Malo Festival International du Livre in 1997. With Roger Brucker he wrote a classic book of cave exploration, The Longest Cave. His literary-philosophical trilogy — The Philosopher’s Diet, The Philosopher’s Joke, and The Philosopher’s Demise — have variously been translated into seven languages. His most recent work is Cogito, Ergo Sum: The Life of René Descartes, the first biography of the father of modern philosophy written for a general audience.

For more information, call (314) 935-4620 or visit the Assembly Series Web page (