The Literary Way

a newsletter for Xavier University of Louisiana's English majors, minors, and honors students

July 2015*

*[Editor's Note: Due to my Spring 2015 sabbatical, The Literary Way took a sabbatical too!]

2015 English Graduates

2015 English graduates

2015 English Graduates: Viktor Svoboda, Jordyn Goody (Magna Cum Laude), Catherine Fakler (Summa Cum Laude), Maya Clark, and Anthony Lotten, Jr. (Magna Cum Laude)

On May 9, 2015 nine English majors crossed the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas:

Maya Clark, Catherine Fakler, Jessica Gardiner, Jordyn Goody, Anthony Lotten Jr., Courtney Martin, Leland Riley, Mia Ruffin, and Viktor Svoboda.

Graduate of the Year

Catherine Fakler

Catherine Fakler

Catherine Fakler earned the English Graduate of the Year award, based on voting by faculty and her peers. A distance runner from Phoenix, Arizona, Catherine was named to the 2014-15 Capital One Academic All-America College Division Women's Track & Field/Cross Country Team. In track and field, she won 11 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference individual outdoor championships. In cross country, as a junior, she won the GCAC individual title and was chosen Louisiana Runner of the Year. She helped the Gold Nuggets win four GCAC team titles.

Catherine was just as impressive in the classroom, graduating with a cumulative 4.0 grade-point average as an English / English Education major. Her next step will be graduate school at the University of Arizona. Go, Catherine!

—by Dr. David Lanoue

Andy Young's Visit to Xavier

Andy Young

Andy Young with students

Poet Andy Young visited Dr. Biljana Obradovic's Creative Writing class.

Andy Young is the author of several books, including The People is Singular (Press Street Press 2012), All Fires the Fire (Faulkner House Books 2003), and Mine (Lavender Ink 2000).

Creative Theses

Vincenzo Ciccone

James Shade, Vincenzo Ciccone, Dr. Biljana Obradovic, and Ralph Adamo

Creative Writing Minor Vincenzo Ciccone successfully defended his creative thesis, a collection of poetry, supervised by his faculty mentor, Dr. Biljana Obradovic. James Shade and Ralph Adamo served on the thesis committee. Vincenzo earned a tuition-paying Truman Capote Fellowship, awarded to the University's top creative writing students.

Two other students completed and defended creative theses last spring: Maya Clark and Maxie Shields, both fiction writers mentored by Mark Whitaker. Katheryn Laborde served on both thesis committees; James Shade served on Maya's committee, and Ralph Adamo served on Maxie's. Maxie submitted her creative thesis, a novella titled Selah, to the 2015 William Faulkner-Wisdom Literary Competition, where she was honored as a semifinalist.

Anthony Lotten, Jr. Represents the English Department

decoration Anthony Lotten posdecoration

Anthony Lotten, Jr., one of this year's crop of graduating senior English majors, will continue as a smiling presence on the bulletin boards of Xavier University for some time to come. Anthony was chosen to represent the English Department in a series of motivational posters on the theme, "XU WORKS: Get Involved!" Anthony has been accepted to the Graduate Program in Fine Arts at Columbia University.

Two English Faculty Members Honored

Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence Awards, 2015

Dr. Donna Gould
Dr. Donna Gould

Dr. Donna Gould received the pretigious Norman C. Francis Excellence in Teaching Award for faculty who have worked at Xavier for over six years. Sister Donna adapts her teaching to the learning styles of her students. For example, when she determines that her students learn visually, she makes use of notes on the board and DVDs. For auditory learners, she emphasizes lectures and class discussions, and for creative learners, she assigns dramatic demonstrations. She also makes use of electronic media in her classrooms to better engage student curiosity and involvement.

Outside of class, Dr. Gould meets individually with her students to talk about their writing and their grades. She encourages multiple drafts of each writing assignment, and she allows students to learn from their mistakes, submitting revisions that can possibly raise their grades.

In World Literature class, she has chosen to organize the course around an interesting theme: The Heroís Journey. In her upper-level American Literature course, she sets the context by presenting oral literature of Native Americans and Africans, all of whom influenced American identity, mythology, and culture.

Dr. Gould is also innovative in her assignments, a recent example being a research paper that asked students to depict a fictional panel discussion for a PBS broadcast: four dinner guests, each of whom represent an important period in literary history (Realism, Modernism, Harlem Renaissance, and Postmodernism). This kind of creative assignment surely challenged her students while keeping them interested in the topic.

Dr. Gouldís outstanding performance as a teacher has earned for her this high honor. She is clearly one of Xavierís most creative, dedicated, and effective teachers.

Dr. Biljana Obradovic
Dr. Biljana Obradovic

Dr. Biljana Obradovic won a Norman C. Francis Excellence in Scholarship Award in the category of faculty who have taught at Xavier for over six years. Dr. Obradovic is indeed a bright star of the English Department in the area of scholarship. She publishes widely, in the United States and around the world, and is the author of several books. Last year (2013-14), she completed a translation of a Serbian book of poetry by Niyi Osundare, The Tongue Is a Pink Fire, accepted for publication by a press in Belgrade. In addition, her poems appeared in, or were accepted by, numerous journals, literary magazines, and anthologies—which adds up to 16 poems, a tremendous achievement for a single year. On top of her creative output, she found the time to write and publish three book reviews, to appear as an invited expert on a panel at a literary festival, and to give two papers at scholarly conferences. She also presented her own work at literary readings in New Orleans, New York City, and Richmond Virginia.

Incredibly, her outstanding performance in 2013-14 was typical of her years at Xavier University. She publishes in reputable journals, and her stature as a poet is recognized in other countries, from her native Serbia to South Korea.

Dr. Obradovic is also a nurturing mentor for the young writers on our campus who have had the opportunity of studying with her. Her Creative Thesis student Jonathan Moody, for example, after graduating Xavier went on to publish two collections of poems, the second of which has recently won the Northwestern University Press prize for poetry. Her student Rebecca Udokopís poem won second place in a competition sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and the National World War II Museum; another of her students, Karen Nguyen, won an honorable mention in the same contest. Last summer, she worked closely with another student, Brittany Stepter, on a Music and Literature grant provided by the Center for undergraduate Research.

Over the years, many of her students have been accepted to MFA programs around the country. Her mentoring has helped to launch many of our graduates into bright careers as creative writers/teachers. Dr. Obradovic deserves the praise of her colleagues and her students for earning this outstanding honor.

—by Dr. David Lanoue

Xavier Review

Xavier Review Press Presents a Harvest of Summer Reading

Xavier University is proud to house a press that publishes books as well as a literary journal. The press is staffed by two editors and one managing editor who are full-time English faculty, each with classes to teach and essays to grade. The fruits of the year-round labors of Xavier Review Press Executive Editor Nicole Pepinster Greene and Xavier Review Editor Ralph Adamo are quite evident this summer, with a new book of stunning fiction and a fresh issue of fine contemporary literature ready for the picking.

Xavier Review 35:1 features the writing of (and an interview with) Randy Bates; Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon; current state Laureate finalist Gina Ferrara; co-editor of XRP's Umpteen Ways of Looking at a Possum, Grace Bauer; and works by Daniel Webre, Jonathan Kline, Kathryn Jacobs, Ed Ruzicka, Michael Fulop, Mona T. Lydon-Rochelle, Elizabeth Rosen, Randolph Thomas, Skip Fox, and Randall R. Freisinger.

The issue costs $10. To purchase, contact the managing editor at klaborde@xula.edu.

Meanwhile.... Fatima Shaik's collection of short fiction, What Went Missing and What Got Found, is set for an August 29 release and is already getting some nice attention on Goodreads. The book launch will take place 6 p.m. August 18 at Octavia Books (513 Octavia Street, New Orleans).

You can pre-order the book on Amazon, or get it from Xavier Review Press (klaborde@xula.edu). The price is $16.

This year Xavier Review celebrates 35 years of publishing poetry, prose, and reviews from writers the world over. To get an idea of all the journal, and the press itself, has published, visit the XRP website. Be sure to check out the Xavier Review Press page on FB for the latest information.

—Katheryn Krotzer Laborde
Associate Professor, Department of English
Xavier Review/ Xavier Review Press Managing Editor

Dr. Richard Collins Returns to Campus

(for at least a day)

Dr. Richard Collins, a former member of Xavier's English Department, is the current Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at California State University in Bakersfield. On July 6, he returned to campus to lead a workshop titled, "The Goal of No Goal": Assessing Contemplative Practice." This well-attended workshop was organized by Bart Everson of Xavier's Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) as part of a continuing series of meetings that explore the possibilities and promise of a contemplative approach to teaching.

Dr. Collins challenged the assumptions of his audience, consisting of Xavier faculty from across the disciplines (including Mr. Ralph Adamo, Dr. Nicole Greene, Dr. David Lanoue and Professor Emeritus Dr. Tom Bonner, all of the English Department), a few community guests, and a former English major, Bill Beverly, Jr. A fixation on goals, he argued, can disrupt the process of learning. For example, students who fixate on the "goal" of earning an "A" often learn less than their peers who are simply living in the moment, loving the process of learning for its own sake. Teachers can similarly miss opportunities to foster deep learning when they stick too closely to their agendas for a particular class, not taking the time to truly listen to their students. Instead of hurrying on to the next point—the next "goal" on that day's agenda—teachers are better off to slow down, attend to the present moment, and listen to what students are saying. That way, the teacher learns, the students teach, and together they arrive at a deeper understanding of the material.

A practicing teacher of Zen Buddhism, Dr. Collins is the author of a new book (which CAT provided to all workshop participants): No Fear Zen: Discovering Balance in an Unbalanced World (Hohm Press, 2015).

—by Dr. David Lanoue

David Lanoue and Richard Collins

David Lanoue and Richard Collins

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The Literary Way is edited by Dr. David G. Lanoue of the Xavier University English Department. Contact: dlanoue@xula.edu