Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition: December 5, 2001
Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition
In This Issue

BioVenture/Life Sciences Greenhouse Aims to Develop Bioscience Industries

Behrmann Cited for Research into the Mind's "Eye"

Students Get Chance to Impact Public Policy Through Friedman, Johnson Fellowships

HR Launches New Just-in-Time, Self-Service Web Technology

Akram Midani Remembered for His Knowledge, Sense of Humor

Heinz School Appoints William Guttman To Head Software Industry Center

Judith Modell to Direct Center for Arts in Society

Simon Memorial Fund Established

"Strong, Distinctive Voices" Take Circuitous Routes to Poetry, Carnegie Mellon

News Briefs
Historian Manning Marable is Keynoter for Martin Luther King Day

Most Eligible Bachelor Returns

Regina Gouger Miller Gallery Presents...

Entries Sought for Martin Luther King Writing Awards

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poets "Strong, Distinctive Voices" Take Circuitous Routes to Poetry, Carnegie Mellon

Poets Anthony Butts and Terrance Hayes have each taken somewhat circuitous routes to their new posts this fall as English Department faculty members.

"When I co-edited 'American Poetry: The Next Generation,' an anthology of poets under 40 who have published at least one book of poems, Anthony Butts and Terrance Hayes stood out as two of the strongest, most distinctive voices of the 166 poets included," said English Professor and poet Jim Daniels.

"We hadn't hired a full-time poet in our department since I was hired in 1981, so we're very excited about adding them to our program. I expect them both to energize our students with both their teaching and their writing," Daniels said.

"American Poetry: The Next Generation," published by the Carnegie Mellon University Press, is available at the University Shoppe for $24.95. It was edited by Daniels and English Professor Gerald Costanzo.

Anthony Butts

Butts, the seventh of nine children in a poor urban Detroit family, has quite a remarkable story.

Born with scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and severe myopia (near-sightedness), he was placed in special education classes for the mentally retarded and visually impaired for seven years in elementary school. He said he was the "outcast among outcasts."

However, after surprising many by scoring in the top two percent on a regional academic test, he gained admission to the prestigious Detroit Renaissance High School for gifted students.

Butts started his college career as a pre-med major, but switched to poetry in mid-stream. Since then he's been on the fast track using his past experiences to reflect and build upon in his work.

His first book, "Fifth Season," was published in 1997 while he was still in his 20s. He is the first graduate student whose work was published by Western Michigan University's New Issues Press and he is one of only two authors to have been invited by the press to print a second.

In the foreword of "Fifth Season," poet and essayist Sherod Santos writes that in Butts' work "demons and angels are equally acknowledged, equally real, and equally allotted their place."

Poet Ruth Ellen Kocher, writing in the African American Review, said that Butts uses memory "as a means to both take ownership of the verse and also to make a gift of it and of his quiet yet ardent voice."

"I will flitter now as I couldn't before; lives are born and born again," Butts writes near the end of his poem "Skin."

Butts' poems have been published in at least 17 different anthologies and scholarly journals. His second book, "Evolution" (1998), is a coffee-table edition with heavyweight, ragged-edge paper and woodcut illustrations by Thomas Huck. A third book, titled "Little Low Heaven," will be published in January 2003.

Butts is the winner of one of three $10,000 Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grants for 2001. The award is given for artistic merit, new material, new pespectives and talent.

Terrance Hayes

Hayes studied art because he "thought it would be a way to get into college," but it was his athletic ability on the basketball court that earned him a scholarship to Coker College in his native state of South Carolina. His athletic skills and academic prowess earned him Academic All-American distinction.

In his senior year a writing professor turned him on to poetry. He earned a graduate fellowship and master's degree at the University of Pittsburgh. His first book, "Muscular Music," was published by Tia Chucha Press in 1999.

Hayes' art interests and writing are reflected in his new book. A winner of the highly selective National Poetry Series Open Competition Award, "Hip Logic" will be published by Viking Penguin Press in 2002. The cover design of the book will feature one of his oil paintings.

Only five poets were selected in the National Poetry Series Open Competition this year. The competition was established in 1978 to ensure the publication of five poetry books annually through participating publishers.

"My parents didn't even know I wrote poetry until my (first) book came out," said Hayes, who has taught English in Pittsburgh, Japan and Columbus, Ohio.

Hayes said he exposes his students to all kinds of poets because "getting someone turned on to poetry is finding whom they like, and they'll never know unless they have a teacher.

"Writing poetry is a window for your life, not just a career. It helps you understand yourself," he said.

Lynn Smith

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