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Two UVM Emeriti Professors Win PEN New England Awards

PEN New England announced the winners of their 2013 awards celebrating the best works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction by New England authors with University of Vermont faculty receiving the honor in two of the three categories.

Bernd Heinrich, professor emeritus of biology, won the nonfiction award for Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death published last summer by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His book is an investigation not of how animals die but, as he tells The New York Times, “the different ways animals are recycled in natural ecology and how scavengers cleanse the world so there’s room for new life.”

Heinrich is a wildlife biologist who, in addition to his scientific books has written nearly 20 popular books on subjects ranging from ravens (for which he has a particular fondness) to bumblebees, dung beetles, owls and geese. As a former champion marathoner he has also explored the natural history of running.

Emeritus Professor of English David Huddle won the prize for poetry with his latest collection, Blacksnake at the Family Reunion, published in November. According to LSU Press, the work “continues Huddle’s poetic inquiry into the power of early childhood and family to infuse adulthood with sadness and despair – an inquiry conducted with profound empathy for the fragility of humankind.” He has authored 17 books of poetry, fiction and essays.

Seven Days calls the poem, “What the Stone Says,” with the speaker contemplating the life of an older sister who died the day she was born, among the most poignant in the collection, noting that, “the terse simplicity of Huddle’s language largely bypasses sentimentality.” “BORN & DIED says / her small stone, then / a single date / in November… / … /The ampersand / tells the whole truth / and nothing but, / so help me God, / whose divine shrug / is expressed so / eloquently / by that grave mark.”

Colm Tóibín will deliver the keynote address at the PEN/Hemingway and PEN New England awards ceremony on March 24 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

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