HATTIESBURG – A
doctoral candidate at The University of Southern Mississippi’s
Center for Writers and a recipient of one of the center’s
newly inaugurated Excellence Fellowships has won a $1,000 prize
for his poetry from a highly regarded national literary journal.
Michael Bassett’s prize-winning poem, “The
Blackboard of His Eyelid,” will appear in Fugue’s
summer issue along with work by distinguished poets W.S. Merwin,
Reginald Shepherd, and Dean Young. Published by the University of
Idaho, Fugue is an important literary journal devoted to
the best new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. It is the recipient
of the Pushcart Prize and has received citations from Best American
Essays, with poetry reprinted on the Web site Verse Daily.
Bassett, a native of South Carolina, earned a bachelor’s
degree from Wofford College and a Master of Fine Arts degree from
Vermont College. His poetry has appeared in literary journals such
as Apostrophe, Coal City Review, The Journal, and Poetry
Motel; his chapbook, Karma Puppets, was published
in 2003 by Pudding House Press.
Bassett’s poem was selected from a field of
800 submissions by prominent poet Tony Hoagland, who says, “The
writer has a rich, original ear for the improvisations of language
. . . this poem generates a Dickensian, gothic linguistic pleasure
for the reader in its lyrical narrative of a persecuted nerd-child.”
Bassett is a recipient of a Center for Writers Excellence
Award, instituted by President Shelby Thames. The $15,000 stipends
afford the center -- ranked in the top 10 percent of creative writing
programs by U.S. News and World Report -- increased support for
doctoral study. Beginning in the fall of 2005, the awards will be
presented to the university’s top doctoral candidates who
come to Southern Miss from such prestigious schools as Cornell,
Harvard, the University of Virginia, Northeastern University, the
University of Georgia, Hollins, and Johns Hopkins.
Bassett will continue his studies at the Center for
Writers in the fall of 2005.