The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Emerson Speaks at National Book Festival

2 min read

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This past Saturday Claudia Emerson, Pulitzer-prize winning author and University of Mary Washington professor in the English, linguistics and communication department, spoke at the National Book Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The event, hosted by the Library of Congress, included authors Garrison Keiller, David McCullough and Dave Eggers.

During the event, Emerson read from some of her works and discussed her experience in becoming a writer.

“I am so proud of Claudia’s accomplishments,” said Teresa Kennedy, chair of the English, linguistics and communications department. “Her presence at this event is just one more indication of the power of her writing and its recognition on the national stage, and of the quality of our creative writing program. I know the department joins me in congratulating her.”

At the festival, Emerson touched on many of the events that inspired her writing, such as her previous marriage, during which se repaired old farmhouses in rural Virginia. This marriage ended in a divorce, but inspired her Pulitzer-prize winning book, Late Wife.

She read poems about the more emotional moments of her life, including her difficult transition from her previous marriage and the double tragedy of her brother and father’s deaths.

She also mentioned teaching at UMW and encouraging her students to be true to the poem and not reality, but said that when writing Late Wife she “wouldn’t allow [herself] any liberties.”

Emerson holds the Arrington Distinguished Chair of Poetry at UMW.

Last spring she was awarded a prestigious fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Jeffrey Anderson contributed to this report.

Photo by Upma Kapoor.