Faculty & Staff Achievements

USF Poet's Success is Chronic

by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu

For University of San Francisco poet D.A. Powell, the good news has been chronic, you might say.

In fact, Powell, associate professor of English, has been busy in recent months accepting a number of national awards and critical approbation for his latest collection of poems, titled Chronic.

On May 25, Powell will be the guest poet at Harvard University’s esteemed Phi Beta Kappa 2010 literary exercises – part of the university’s commencement program.

Among the most respected academic honor societies in the nation, Phi Beta Kappa has honored literary luminaries since 1782. Past guest poets have included such leading lights as Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frost, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

In February, Powell was named the winner of one of the most prestigious prizes for contemporary poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, which includes a $100,000 purse. And in April, Powell won the Northern California Book Award for poetry – just to name a few of his honors.

“Winning the Kingsley Tufts Prize was an enormous surprise and a thrill,” said Powell, noting that the Tufts Prize often garners more attention because of its large purse but that the Phi Beta Kappa recognition was just as important to him.

In Chronic, three chronic conditions overlay everything in the collection: physical illness, environmental catastrophe, and love. The conditions, in turn, become devices to explore and expand on how time ravages all.

“These various conditions are made manifest through the chronicling of a relationship with character called Haines Eason who appears throughout the collection as both a lover and a scoundrel,” said Powell, who believes all poetry says the same thing: that love, triumph, sadness, hope, illness – everything is fleeting.