SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — A poem written by Maureen Fry, director of the Wittenberg University Writing Center, has been nominated for a 2004 Pushcart Prize, one of the most honored literary projects in America. Fry’s poem, “The Way It Is,” was first published in the Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts by the Manayunk Art Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
“The Way It Is” highlights annual visitors to the Wittenberg campus — crows — and the various reactions the flying creatures receive from humans at the college. The editors of Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts selected Fry’s poem to represent the best works published in 2003.
The Pushcart Prize, founded in 1975, represents the best of the small presses, and the 2004 winners will be published in November. Small press journal and book editors can submit up to six nominations of poems, short fiction and essays from their year’s publications by the December deadline. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of the annual Pushcart collections. Writers who were first noticed in their pages include Raymond Carver, Tim O’Brien, Jayne Anne Phillips, Susan Minot and John Irving.
The New York Times Book Review has hailed the Pushcart Prize editions as “the single best measure of the state of affairs in American literature today.”
Somewhat humble about her work being judged by the Pushcart Prize board, Fry admits to “being honored by the nomination, but I write mostly for the pleasure it brings me.”
Fry began writing poetry again several years ago after a 30-year hiatus during which time she raised two sons, taught and began work in the Wittenberg Writing Center. She has since penned about 40 poems, most of them written during the summer while school is out of session.
“It seems especially fitting to me that the poem nominated for the Pushcart Prize is about Wittenberg because I’ve had the opportunity over my years here to work closely with many talented student writers,” Fry said. “In fact, it was my work with one extraordinarily gifted young poet that impelled me to start writing again, and I am immeasurably grateful for that relationship.”
She also credits her friend Imogene Bolls, Wittenberg adjunct professor emeritus of English. “She’s a wonderful poet who showered me with kind encouragement, and she has been a generous and sensitive reader of my work,” Fry explained.
Fry, who lives in Champaign County, said she started keeping a journal, and she often suggests that students interested in writing do the same. “Keeping a journal makes you reflect, which is marvelous for writing,” she said. “I think it is also important to block out time every day to write.”
Originally from Baltimore, Md., Fry attended Notre Dame Preparatory School, earned her B.A. from and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and her M.A. from the University of Dayton.
“Writing has both given me great satisfaction and led to a number of other gratifying opportunities,” Fry said. “I consider myself very fortunate and I’m glad I’ve rekindled this love.”
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