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In the midst of the recent COVID-19-related economic, social and academic upheaval, something profound occurred.
Graduate students in Arizona State University’s creative writing community engaged in what poet Natalie Diaz terms “radical pedagogy.”
Diaz, a MacArthur fellow who is associate professor of English and holds the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at ASU, was inspired when she saw her students adapting and thriving in difficult circumstances.
“These students went beyond the standard commitment to presenting their theses and adapting and enhancing their classroom approaches,” Diaz explained. “Their imaginations benefitted both the students in the classes they taught as well as in their own MFA cohorts.”
In consultation with colleagues in English and with leadership of the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Diaz created a 2020-specific honor: the Marshall Chair Award for Radical Pedagogy in Poetics. The award recognizes rigorous imagination and innovative community building.
The student winners — all candidates in English’s Master of Fine Arts creative writing program — exemplified excellence in the teaching and writing of poetry, especially during the current crisis.
“As COVID-19 created a sudden need to shift our classrooms and the ways we engage in the ‘study’ of poetry,” said Diaz, “these students rose to and exceeded that challenge by creating new structures for collective critical engagement of creative works within conditions of sudden and extreme community dispersal.”
Diaz continued: “I really admire the work they've done — my interactions and rigorous conversations with them have made me a better instructor and poet. It has been an honor to think and work alongside them as we shaped new ways of engaging our ASU and non-ASU community.”
Meet the winners of the 2020 Marshall Chair Award for Radical Pedagogy in Poetics.
Poet Steven Michael Abell was born in Hardin, Montana. He earned a BA from the University of Montana in Missoula and an MFA from Arizona State University. He is currently enjoying a six-month student loan grace period, working on a manuscript, and living in a cabin near Glacier National Park.
David Joseph is a 2020 graduate of ASU's MFA program in creative writing and a former Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing Global Teaching Fellow. David's creative work can be found in Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, NPR, and elsewhere.
Noah Trammell is an alum of the BOAAT Writers Retreat, intern at Four Way Books, and 2019 Virginia G. Piper Fellow. A graduate of Arizona State University's MFA program, he lives in Phoenix with his partner and two cats. His work has appeared in mojo, BOAAT, West Branch, and Muzzle Magazine.
Elliot Rose Winter
Elliot Rose Winter is a trans, nonbinary writer originally from New Jersey, currently living in Tempe, AZ. They hold an MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University, and they are a recipient of a Global Fellowship from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Their poems appear in beestung magazine.
At top, courtesy photos of the Marshall Award winners, left to right: Steven Abell, David Joseph, Noah Trammell and Elliot Rose Winter.