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The National Endowment for the Arts celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016. Their first act of the year was to award creative writing fellowships of $25,000 to provide writers with the time and space to create, revise, and research. From a pool of 1,763 applicants, just 37 were selected.
Two of this year’s recipients, Kevin Haworth and Vedran Husić, are graduates of the same program at Arizona State University: the Department of English’s master of fine arts program in creative writing. The Department of English is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
National Endowment for the Arts director of literature Amy Stolls said of the recipients: “These 37 extraordinary new fellows provide more evidence of the NEA’s track record of discovering and supporting excellent writers.”
Those at ASU who worked with Haworth and Husić as students were thrilled, but not surprised by their selection.
Professor of English Melissa Pritchard, who retired in December 2015, was on graduate committees for both alumni. She remembers them as, “extremely talented, highly intelligent, wildly driven writers.
“Kevin was in a graduate class of mine where we read novels, then practiced writing shadow ‘mini-novels.’ When Kevin read his aloud, we all realized he had a real novel, an important novel, on his hands. Unanimously, we urged him to write it.
“Vedran would read stories in workshop that would leave all of us stunned, unable to say a word. They were magnificent stories.”
Pritchard went on to say, “both Kevin and Vedran were extraordinary students, and have become extraordinary writers. I’m so proud of them.”
Haworth, a 1997 ASU grad, is the author of three books — “Famous Drownings in Literary History,” “The Discontinuity of Small Things” and “Far Out All My Life” — and co-editor of “Lit from Within: Contemporary Masters of the Art & Craft of Writing.” His essays and short stories have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, and The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row, among other venues, and he writes a monthly column for Michigan Quarterly Review. Haworth has taught writing and literature at Arizona State University, Antioch Writers Workshop, 826 Michigan, Ohio University, and Tel Aviv University. He is the Director of Carlow University’s MFA in creative writing.
Husić, who received his ASU degree in 2013, has published fiction in Ecotone, Witness, North American Review, The Massachusetts Review, Blackbird, and elsewhere. A recipient of a Fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, he’s at work on a novel about the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Husic is pursuing a doctorate in creative writing at The University of Missouri, where he also teaches.
ASU’s program in creative writing, from which Haworth and Husić both graduated, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015.
Since 1990, 81 of the 138 American recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA creative writing fellows.
From a release by the National Endowment for the Arts, with contributions from ASU’s Jenny Irish.