Drew University Alum Wins First Book Award


Keywords: Graduates, Caspersen, Student Success

Drew University Alum Wins First Book Award

Wendy Barnes G’16 shot her D.Litt. thesis in his first book

March 2022 – Wendy Barnes G’16 received a Juniper Prize for Poetry for her book Landscape with Bloodfeudbased on his Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) thesis at Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

“I came to D.Litt. program knowing that I wanted to work on poetry and write a book for my thesis,” Barnes said.


Photo by Mark Hillringhouse

“I had a master’s degree in writing from the California Institute of the Arts, but I had somewhat lost track in terms of writing practice. What drew me to the D.Litt. program at Drew was that It was a general humanities degree – meaning I could take a range of courses depending on my interests – which would also give me time and support for my writing.

By immersing herself in a wide range of subjects, Barnes opened herself to a myriad of viewpoints and influences.

Independent study of feminist art with Kimberly Rhodes, professor and chair of art history, influenced the form and content of some of Barnes’ poems. A class on Oscar Wilde with Christine Kinealy, a history teacher, asked Barnes to create a collection of poems. A Celtic history class with Jonathan Golden, director of Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict and assistant professor of comparative religion and anthropology, helped Barnes rethink some of his ideas about received history, which have made their way in his book. His first nonfiction class with Robert Carnevale, adjunct assistant professor of arts and humanities, offered structured writing and commentary that helped Barnes build his confidence as a nonfiction writer.

“Prof. Carnevale’s poetry workshops and guidance were crucial in completing the manuscript,” she said. “I could not have foreseen how much my work would gain from the unexpected detours that would take my thinking and my writing.”

After earning his D.Litt., Barnes worked for four years to turn his dissertation into Landscape with Bloodfeudwhich will be released next month.

For Barnes, receiving the Juniper Prize for Poetry: First Book Award opens up new creative possibilities.

“The award means I have an audience, that I’m not just having a conversation with myself and the few friends I talk to about poems anymore,” she said. “And it stimulates work, conversation and community.”

“It had other benefits as well,” she added. “I’m on temporary leave from Union County College in Elizabeth, NJ, where I’m an associate professor of English, and I’m artist-in-residence at the University of Central Oklahoma. I teach undergraduates and I have been asked to judge the Kallisto Gaia Press Saguaro Poetry Prize and these opportunities would certainly not have arisen without the prize.


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