TU English professor named finalist for National Book Award for poetry

By Jan Lucas on October 4, 2017

Leslie Harrison is among five poets being considered for coveted award

Towson University's Leslie Harrison is on the National Book Foundation’s so-called shortlist for The Book of Endings, her second collection of poems.

The poetry shortlist—composed of five finalists for the prestigious National Book Award—was announced today. Harrison and the others were selected from a longlist of 10 semifinalists released in September. Nearly 250 submissions were received in the poetry category alone.

According to the National Book Foundation, its National Book Awards recognize the best of American literature, raise the cultural appreciation of great writing, promote the enduring value of reading, and advance the careers of established and emerging writers.

This year’s winners will be announced on November 15 at a ceremony in New York City, with Harrison among those present.

“It’s extraordinary and unexpected and amazing,” Harrison said of the news. “This has been a dream and a joyride.”

The National Book Foundation describes The Book of Endings (University of Akron Press) as an attempt “to make sense of, or at least come to some kind of reckoning with absence—the death of the author’s mother, the absence of the beloved, the absence of an accountable god, cicadas, the dead stars arriving, the dead moon aglow in the night sky.”

Read Leslie Harrison’s poem, [I Would Drive to Your Grave]

Leslie Harrison was born in Germany and raised mostly in New Hampshire. She holds graduate degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and The University of California, Irvine. Her poems have appeared in journals including Poetry, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, FIELD, Subtropics, Pleiades, Orion and elsewhere.

She has held a scholarship and fellowship at The Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a fellowship at The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In 2011 she was awarded a fellowship in literature from The National Endowment for the Arts. She was the 2010 Philip Roth resident in poetry at Bucknell University, and then a visiting assistant professor in poetry and creative nonfiction at Washington College. Harrison joined TU’s Department of English faculty in 2012 and has taught 13 different courses on campus. Topics included literature, creative nonfiction, and a poetry workshop.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland and Strategic Plan Alignment.