English Professor Wins Poetry Award
BY STEVEN TUTHILL
Last week, Codhill Press selected Dr. Brandon Krieg, assistant professor of English at Westminster, as the recipient of its 2016 Poetry Award for his manuscript, “In the Gorge.” The award will be officially announced by the press on Monday.
Krieg said that Codhill notified him about his award on Feb. 8 and that he was pleased to hear the news.
“It’s always gratifying to have your work recognized,” he said.
The award comes with a prize of $1,000 and 25 copies of “In the Gorge” once it is published. There will be no ceremony, according to Krieg, as poetry manuscript awards are more about selecting a book for the press to publish.
“I will be happy to have the book published so I can share it with others, and so I can turn my focus to other projects,” he said.
Krieg, Westminster’s newest English professor, released two books of poetry prior to “In the Gorge”: “Source to Mouth” and “Invasives.” The latter was a finalist for the 2015 Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Book Award in Environmental Creative Writing.
As he does in “Invasives,” Krieg writes with a strong focus on the environment in “In the Gorge.”
“My poetry is about the difficulty of confronting, through language that is neither naive nor sentimental, our painful alienation from the more-than-human world brought on by our utter dependence on resource extraction, mass consumption, and simulation,” he said. “It is also about discovering ways to fully inhabit the world just as we find it.”
He said that his environmental focus comes from his experiences growing up in Oregon, where he was surrounded by forests, mountains and coasts, as well as news stories about environmental concerns.
“People were environmentally conscious, and there was constant controversy about environmental issues,” Krieg said.
These controversies included attempts to remove forests that provided homes for spotted owls, to construct dams that destroyed salmon habitat and to acquire rights for commercial fishermen to fish in indigenous peoples’ waters.
“I think writers are people who write, not necessarily people who are famous.” -Brandon Krieg
While Krieg, who earned his doctorate in English from Western Michigan University, draws inspiration from environmental issues, he stated that some of the poems from “In the Gorge” diverge from this topic.
“There’s a lot of poems about being a dad,” he said. “I have a three-year-old, and that’s something that’s still new to me.”
Krieg said that his advice for writers is to write in a journal every day.
“I think writers are people who write, not necessarily people who are famous,” he said. “They sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and create something.”
Additional reporting contributed by Roberta Burns.