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Alumni news

In memoriam
We are sorry to report that Anne Silver lost her long battle with breast cancer on October 20, 2005.  Anne, who attended RopeWalk in 2001 and 2002, is pictured at RopeWalk 2002.
Anne Silver, RopeWalk 2002
Her good friend, Lee Rossi, has this to say about Anne.

Anne Silver once wrote, "Poetry does not heal or save a life. But it affirms the life you are living. It bears witness." Those of us who had the good fortune to experience Anne and her poetry know how true this is. Both her poetry and her person gave testament to her exuberance for life. Everything she touched, and she touched many things -- poetry, photography, pottery, and Torah study were just a few of her enthusiasms -- was an occasion for joyous exploration. I knew her best as a poet. She never stopped growing as a writer, never stopped challenging herself to create poems that were deeper, funnier, and truer than any she had yet written. The week before she died, she told me, "The only thing I regret is that I'm finally learning how to write." Lee Rossi & Anne Silver, 2002

While exemplifying the strength of her commitment, this comment understates her achievement. Her work, collected in two volumes, Bare Root and Ark of One, and published in such prestigious journals as The Atlanta Review, the Minnesota Review, and Nimrod, testifies to her great skill as a poet. She was a beacon, an exemplar for the rest of us. Nobody, I think, was funny in the brash, insouciant way she was funny. Nobody traversed the harrowing passage back to childhood with quite her style and authority. Since she died three weeks ago, of complications from metastatic breast cancer, I've wanted to write something which might capture the wild and generous energy of her spirit. Here are a few lines from a piece for a local (L.A.) poetry website:

Some poets sing like angels, but this one gobbled up experience as if it were the last twist of her mortal coil. Who else ate so well in their poems? She burned like chaparral in a firestorm, the creosote of her imagination flaring at every ambient spark and ember. Some say she has already returned, hungry for more, a cappuccino-cheeked cherub, a prosciutto putto in the well-heeled suburbs of Rome. But I think she's graduated to the next level, and is looking out for those of us too word-struck to take much care of ourselves. They say it takes three confirmed miracles to make a saint. Every time I read one of her poems, I experience another miracle, of language, common as dirt, flowering into fruit which satisfies the deepest hunger.

Now that she's gone, her poems will serve to remind us of our loss. And also serve to comfort us.
                      Lee Rossi, November 2005

Spring 2004

Robert Brimmwinter 2001, invites one and all to visit his online journal at

Belinda Anderson, who attended RopeWalk in 2003, has the lead story in the current issue of ArtWorks, a publication of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.  The topic?  Belinda's experiences at RopeWalk!  Thanks, Belinda.

Fall 2003

In My Mother's House (St. Martin's Press), Margaret McMullan's third novel, is winning critical acclaim as "an elegantly crafted novel" about a daughter's quest to understand her mother's staunch commitment to silence about her family's experiences in World War II.  McMullan was a RopeWalk faculty member in 1995 and has been a featured reader on two occasions.  She will read on the USI campus as part of the RopeWalk Reading Series this spring.

Jim McGarrah, managing editor of Southern Indiana Review and RopeWalk alumnus and staffer, received the 2003 Editor's Choice Award from Elixir Press for Running the Voodoo Down.  The collection of poems has been reviewed as "a fearless yet tender examination of survival in the modern age." (Justin Cain)  Jim will read from Voodoo on January 29 as part of the RopeWalk reading series.

Chance of Rain is the title of a collection of poems by Robert Brimm.  Published by Finishing Line Press, the collection is described as "gentle and welcome as a soft rain, and yet it crackles with surprises."  (David Garrison)

Anne Silver (2001 & 2002) has published a poem in Wisconsin Review under her pseudonym Bootz Zlatnikovich.  Zlathnikovich was the family name before it was changed to silver and the poem, Pictures, talks about relatives who were killed because of their name.  Click here for information about Wisconsin Review.

Several time RopeWalk participant Wes Allen is having a show of his photographs February 28-March 21 at the Central Bank Gallery in Lexington, Kentucky.  Wes's photos have been used in RopeWalk publications and some can be found on this Web site.  Wes also published two articles in recent issues of Arts Across Kentucky.  "Art at Audubon Park" appeared in the Fall 2002 issue while "He Casts His Art in Pewter" is in the Spring 2003 issue.  Both articles are accompanied by Wes's photographs.

Good news just keeps coming for Deborah Bogen who's book-length manuscript Landscape with Silos was runner up for the T. S. Eliot Prize from Truman State University.  The competition was judged by C. D. Wright. (2/4/03)

Deborah Bogen's manuscript Living by the Children's Cemetery has won the ByLine Press Chapbook Competition for 2002.  In making his selection, judge Edward Hirsch said "poets search for the right words to speak in light of what often seems unspeakable, and beyond language.  They discover unsung truths.  Living by the Children's Cemetary provides a profound answer to the poet's own call for 'something sinister, something fragile, something Bessie Smith could sing.'"  The book is available from ByLine Press.

Summer 2001 and 2002 participant Anne Silver has had her poem Matter of Focus accepted by the English Journal of the Secondary Section of the National Council of Teachers of English.  It will appear in the January 2003 issue.

Robert Finley has finally (his word) published his book Tao Te Change: Poetry and Paradox.  Robert writes that the book is "an outgrowth of the mystical imagination--which is best expressed in poetic form."  The book is comprised of 80 brief chapters in a blank verse format and is the result of 30 years of contemplation and labor.  The publisher is

Robin Chapman's book The Way In (Tebot Bach Publishing) won the 2000 Posner Poetry Award. Parallel Press has just published her chapbook The Only Everglades in the World (2001).

Cindra Halm received third prize in the 1999 49th Parallel Poetry Awards and was a semi-finalist in the 2000 Discover/The Nation poetry awards. She attended RopeWalk in 1998.

Terry Blackhawk's first book of poems, Body & Field was published by Michigan State University Press in 1999. It has been reviewed numerous times, most recently in Poet Lore's Winter 2001 issue. You can read more about Terry on the Academy of American Poets Web site at

The short story "Confession", which Donna Vitucci brought to her 1998 workshop with Richard Powers has been accepted for publication in Hawai'i Review.

May 1, 2000: Donna Vitucci, many-time RopeWalk participant, has had two short stories accepted for publication. "Trick or Treat" will appear in the fall 2000 edition of Natural Bridge, the literary magazine of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This was Donna's workshop piece in Sigrid Nunez's group at RopeWalk 1999. Donna will also have a story in the May 2000 issue of Faultline, the literary magazine of the University of California-Irvine. Congrats, Donna!

March 9, 2000: Michael Martone, past RopeWalk faculty member and guest reader, has a new book available. The Flatness and Other Landscapes is the winner of the 1998 Associated Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction. It is available from The University of Georgia Press (e-mail: ) as well as from Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Kirkus Reviews had this to say:

From Kirkus Reviews
Martone, author of essays (Townships, 1992) and short fiction (Seeing Eye, 1995) steeped in the mythology of the Midwest, offers more essays on the same subject in this 1999 Associated Writing Programs creative nonfiction winner. "I think you should visit some of the hidden places of the country, farms and factories,'' Martone says in a long essay devoted to an Iowa farm. Modern farming is so little reported upon that his subtle, intelligent musings can be startling. He finds a sad poetry even in confinement hog operations: the difficult working conditions for humans, not unlike that of coal miners two generations ago; the strange, not quite porcine, smells, as if one were in a laboratory; and the insistence on acting alive that pigs sometimes exhibit even when they might seem to be no more than machines. Martone sounds like Thoreau when he meditates on windmills, speculating that they are, on a flat landscape, as much symbol as physical object, that they have transubstantiated into our collective myth of the farm. True, he flounders when he tours Greece, trying to find similarities to his native Indiana, and he will lose some readers in his essay on teaching English, charming as it is. But at his best Martone has a knack for finding meaning in the mundane, in the very flatness of Midwestern landscapes, as in his account of an attempt to revive the dying town of Riverside, Iowa, by declaring it to be the birthplace of James T. Kirk, Captain of the Starship Enterprise, and its contrasting sister city, Kalona, an Amish farming town and perversely prosperous bastion of the past. Uneven, inconclusive, but at the same time original, probing, provocative. Someone should send Martone on a long sabbatical to write the Great Midwestern Novel. -- Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.