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Susan Atefat Peckham Wins
"National Poetry Series" Award

Posted October 2, 2000

HOLLAND -- A collection of poems by Susan Atefat Peckham, assistant professor of English at Hope College, has been selected as winner of the prestigious National Poetry Series award.

The National Poetry Series was established in 1978 to ensure the publication of five books of poetry each year. The award includes $1,000, publication of the book, and a book tour. Winning manuscripts are selected by means of an annual open competition, judged by five distinguished poets, each picking a book to be published by a major literary press.

Hope College poet Jack Ridl said of the National Poetry Series competition, "This is definitely a major award. After the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, there is a small handful of extremely prestigious awards. This is one of them."

Atefat Peckham's manuscript, "That Kind of Sleep," was selected by two of the judges, well-known poets Victor Hernandez Cruz, choosing for the Coffee House Press, and Garrett Hongo, representing Viking/Penguin press. The selections were made from a pool of 1,500 manuscripts submitted by established and emerging American poets.

Atefat Peckham's book will be published by the Coffee House Press in the summer or fall of 2001. Of it, Cruz wrote "'That Kind of Sleep' is a pendulum between cultures and I might add epochs. Reading these Islamic Persian influenced poems, one disappears through so many columns of history, as the poet intermingles the places, the references. There are poems about becoming a woman, and poems about death that are full of so much sense of life. From America and from an interior of incense, this poet gives us a joy of flashes which makes us all ancient and renewed in a paradise of language, dancing in spirals, whirling, whirling."

Susan Atefat Peckham was born first-generation American to Iranian parents, and has lived most of her life in France and Switzerland, although she has also lived in the United States and Iran.

She earned her bachelor of science degree from Baylor University in pre-med biology and chemistry in 1991, master of arts in English from Baylor in 1994, and doctorate in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999. In addition to poetry, she writes creative nonfiction and is a musician and an abstract expressionist painter.

Her nonfiction manuscript, "Black Eyed Bird," finished in the final rounds of judging for the Associated Writing Programs Intro Award, also in 2000. Her work has been selected for inclusion in an anthology, "In the Field of Words" (Prentice-Hall, 2001), and new work has appeared or is forthcoming in "Borderlands," "Texas Poetry Review," "The International Poetry Review," "International Quarterly," "The Literary Review," "The MacGuffin," "Northwest Review," "Onthebus," "Prairie Schooner," "Puerto Del Sol," "The Southern Poetry Review," "The Sycamore Review" and "The Texas Review."

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