English dept. enamored of Kincaid
Monday night was filled with the sounds of steel drums and the smell of Caribbean food in the air. What was the cause for such a celebration? The 37th annual Nina Mae Kellogg Lecture and the English department Student Awards.
The night began with the awards ceremony. Twenty Portland State Students were given various awards for writing excellence. Immediately following the awards ceremony was a reception and a reading from Jamaica Kincaid.
The ballroom in Smith Center was packed full of people all eager to hear the famous woman read from her collection.
John Smyth, a professor and the chair for the English department introduced Kincaid. Smyth and Kincaid attended school together in Vermont. Smyth gave several quotes from Kincaid herself to describe her in his introduction.
“I am very, very prone to be vain,” Kincaid said.
Kincaid began by addressing one of the many descriptions that is given of her. Kincaid said that all women are feminists whether they like it or not. However, Kincaid does not claim to be a feminist unless someone says that they do not care for feminists, and then she proclaims she is one.
“I am always saying things that make people upset,” Kincaid said.
From her speech and her writings it was clear that Kincaid indeed enjoyed getting a rise out of people.
“I have a sharp tongue, a sharp tongue means you say deliciously mean things,” Kincaid said.
Kincaid had planned on reading from “Autobiography of my Mother,” but during a book signing a man told her he never could read from her book “My Brother” because it pained him so. In true Kincaid fashion, she could not let that go.
Kincaid said of her stories, “I don’t read [a story] unless someone asks me to, or pays me to, or they tell me they don’t like it. Then I try to convince them.”
Kincaid wrote for the New Yorker for 15 years, and has been the recipient of numerous nominations and awards. She was born and educated in St. John’s Antigua, in the West Indies.
For nearly four decades the Nina Mae Kellogg lecture has funded campus visits by distinguished scholars and writers.
The Nina Mae Kellogg Student Awards in English were created in honor of the memory of a woman with a life-long interest in language and letters. Nina Mae Kellogg’s association with Portland State University was through her husband, Carl Dahlstrom, Professor Emeritus of English.
The Nina Mae Kellogg Award is given for academic excellence and demonstrated proficiency in the use of English. This year Jeremiah Rickert received the first prize and Kristin Hilton received second prize in the Senior Awards of the Nina Mae Kellogg Awards. Patrick Tweed took first prize and Matthew Henderson second prize for the Sophomore Awards of the Nina Mae Kellogg Awards.
The Wilma Morrison Award, awarded by the Publications Board for excellence in writing in the Vanguard. The recipients of this award are: Rosellini Yann for news; David Solano for feature article; Marcus Hathcock for an opinion piece; and Carrie Dixon for poparts.
Miranda Kussmawl received the James R. Nattinger Award. The James R. Nattinger Award is a graduate teaching fellowship awarded to an outstanding linguistics major.
The Haystack Writing Program Award is given by the Extended and Summer Programs, honoring excellence in creative writing by an undergraduate or graduate English major at Portland State. The recipient of the award was William Bogart.
The Tom and Phyllis Burnam Award is given for the best work of fiction submitted by an undergraduate student. Twila Nesky received first prize, Amanda Ghest took second prize and Beth Kaufka was awarded honorable mention.
The Academy of American Poets Award is a national award presented for the best poem or group of poems submitted by a student. Ann Steven was awarded first prize and William Bogart was awarded second prize.
The Frank Andrew Clarke and Helen Clarke Memorial Award is an award given annually by the English Department to an undergraduate for a work of excellence submitted as a regular writing course assignment. Tyler Sitte received first prize and Amanda Ghest received second prize for the award.
Leah Roley was awarded first prize and Chris Gumm was awarded second prize for the John Redman Memorial Award. The John Redman Memorial Award is offered annually for writing completed as a regular course assignment by a freshman.
The last award of the evening was the Tom Doulis Graduate Award. The award is given for fiction by a student enrolled at the graduate level in regularly scheduled classes at Portland State from spring of the preceding year. Steven Krolak received first prize and Lawrence Cady received second prize.