For He’s a Guggenheim Fellow

USF professor wins prestigious fellowship

By Evan Elliot Posted Thu, 04/11/2019 - 17:51

Dean Rader — professor of English, author, and widely published poet — has won a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2019.

The award places him in the company of 168 scholars, artists, and scientists in the United States and Canada. Appointed “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise,” the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.

Rader’s poems have appeared in the New York Times, Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and many others. He writes and reviews regularly for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, Huffington Post, and BOMB.

While teaching at USF, Rader has won both the Dean’s Scholar Award and the Distinguished Research Award.

Rader told USF News that his literary “aha” moment occurred in his sophomore year of college. “Reading W. S. Merwin and James Wright poems for the first time, I felt as if the cafeteria was rolling away from me and expanding. Those poems changed my life.”

About his fellowship project, Rader said, “I’m working on a new poetry collection that triangulates three seemingly unrelated concerns. On one hand, there are poems that take on issues like climate change, gun violence, and race. On the complete other end of the spectrum is an elliptical and somewhat experimental series in response to specific artworks by Cy Twombly. Between these two modes is another unexpected series — elegies for my father who died in 2017. Somehow, the Venn diagrams overlap and even inform the other. My goal is to find out why. And how.”

So how does it feel to win a Guggenheim?

“That’s a complicated question,” Rader said. “I grew up in a small farm town in Oklahoma, so being recognized by an institution like the Guggenheim is a bit surreal. It all seems so implausible.”

“What I do feel, though, is deep gratitude — to my teachers, my students, my colleagues, my various presses, especially Copper Canyon, the writing and publishing community, my readers, my family, and in particular, USF which has been directly supportive with awards and grants but also indirectly supportive by committing to an ethical teaching load, small classes, and a mission that values a non-instrumentalist endeavor like poetry. I feel incredibly lucky.”