Erika Meitner, associate professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has received a U.S. Scholar Award from the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

A teacher and poet, Meitner will be the Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland for spring 2015. In addition to developing her own work, she will assist with an undergraduate course in creative writing and teach a postgraduate workshop on documentary and investigative poetry.

“I’d like to learn more about the vibrant poetry scenes in the United Kingdom and Ireland — specifically because of the deep historical influences Anglo-Irish poetry has had on American poetry,” said Meitner, who in exchange plans to share her knowledge of the contemporary American poetry landscape.

Meitner has published three books, with a fourth to be released later this year. Her first, “Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore,” won the 2002 Anhinga Press Prize for Poetry (now the Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize). Her second, “Ideal Cities,” was a National Poetry Series winner in 2009.

Her work has also appeared in more than a dozen anthologies and journals. “Copia,” which will hit the shelves in September, examines the landscape of the now-bankrupt city of Detroit and its structures in various states of disintegration.

Meitner will spend part of her time in Belfast working on “Fragments from Holymoleyland,” a collection of poems she began writing after the tragic December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Meitner said, “I’m most interested in the ways in which we collectively and individually respond to large-scale violent events.”

“Erika has a deep appetite for knotty, overlooked issues and landscapes and seems poised, in her new work, of which the Belfast work would form a part, to make a large step forward,” said Tom Gardner, Alumni Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech. Gardner describes Meitner as “an ambassador for poetry,” one who is “deeply sensitive to difference … [and brings] those differences together into large, choral outpourings of voice and thought.”

Meitner came to Virginia Tech in 2007 as an assistant professor and became an associate professor in 2012. Previously she taught literature, religious studies, and creative writing at the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of California-Santa Cruz.

She has a master’s degree and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.

The Fulbright program, established in 1946 by legislation sponsored by Sen. J. William Fulbright, is America's flagship international education exchange activity. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. The program is designed “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

Since the program was established, thousands of U.S. faculty members and other professionals have studied, taught, or conducted research abroad, and thousands of their counterparts from other countries have engaged in similar activities in the United States. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.



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