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USM Professor and Author Launches New Chapbook, Reading set for March 18

Tue, 03/16/2021 - 18:13pm | By: Ivonne Kawas

J.A. BernsteinJ. A. Bernstein, winner of the 2020 Wilt Prize for Creative Nonfiction and professor in the Center for the Graduate Study of Creative Writing, housed within the English program in the School of Humanities at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), will be reading from his newly published chapbook, Northern Cowboy: Essays on Sports (Green Rabbit Press, 2021) on Thursday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) | 6:30 p.m. (CST) live via Zoom.

Bernstein’s chapbook, Northern Cowboy: Essays on Sports, was selected as the winner of the 2020 Wilt Prize in Creative Nonfiction and published by Green Rabbit Press in February 2021. The Wilt Prize is a prestigious award named for the late Kurt V. Wilt, longtime professor of English and creative writing, and a mentor to many from the Saint Leo University community.

The chapbook of creative nonfiction includes essays revolving around sports and the complicated roles they play in our lives.

One essay recounts a failed attempt to make a middle school basketball team; another explores the beauty of an otherwise mundane catch in baseball by a right fielder for the Chicago Cubs named Jason Heyward. A third relives the experience of getting Michael Jordan’s autograph as a child, and contrasts that with the broader disparities—racial, economic, and gendered—in sports of the time, as well as today.

“The book resonates with me, especially now, when so much of sports has been altered or put on hold by the pandemic, and so many of us are grasping for the kind of intimacy and connection that I think sports provides, despite its many contradictions,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein’s other volumes include a novel, Rachel’s Tomb (New Issues, 2019), which won the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award Series Prize; a chapbook, Desert Castles (Southern Indiana Review, 2019), which won the Wilhelmus Prize; and a forthcoming story collection, Stick-Light. His stories, poems, and essays have appeared in about 90 journals and anthologies, including Shenandoah, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, Washington Square, Tin House, and Chicago Quarterly.

A Chicago native and former Fulbright Scholar, Bernstein is the director of graduate studies in the English program and an assistant professor at USM, as well as the fiction editor of Tikkun, a quarterly interfaith magazine and website, and a contributing editor of USM’s acclaimed literary journal the Mississippi Review.

This event is sponsored by two of Saint Leo University’s ventures devoted to literary expression, Green Rabbit Press and the Sandhill Writers Retreat.

To attend the reading, which is open to the community, use this Zoom link: To learn more about Bernstein’s work, visit his website