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Szybist Named Odell Professor of Humanities

  • Mary Szybist

“Simply put, poetry is teaching. Poems teach us to listen; they teach us to think; they teach us to slow down, see connections between seemingly unconnected things, and marvel at this amazing world.”

—Catherine Gunther Kodat,
   Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Catherine Gunther Kodat emphasized the linkages between poetry and teaching during her introduction of Mary Szybist as the Morgan S. Odell Professor of Humanities on March 22. Szybist, an award-winning teacher and poet, joined the English department in 2004. She regularly teaches introductory and advanced poetry classes and was named the college’s Teacher of the Year in 2010. Szybist also helps coordinate the college’s visiting poets series, which is a collaboration between the English department and Watzek Library’s Special Collections.

Szybist is the author of Incarnadine, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. Her first book, Granted, was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Szybist has been the recipient of some of the nation’s most important literary prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, the Library of Congress, and the MacDowell Colony. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, such as Ploughshares, Tin House, and the Kenyon Review. She earned her BA from the University of Virginia and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

The Morgan S. Odell Professorship in the Humanities was established in 1994 through the generosity of James F. Miller, a Portland philanthropist and longtime member of the Lewis & Clark Board of Trustees. The professorship is named for the college’s first president and was previously held by Szybist’s English department colleague John Callahan.

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