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Amy Newman
Amy Newman

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News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

October 16, 2006

NIU English professor is new poetry critic
for newspapers on both sides of the pond

DeKalb, Ill. — Two world-famous news organizations have taken a liking to Northern Illinois University English Professor Amy Newman, an award-winning poet and teacher.

Newman has been named as the new poetry critic at the Chicago Sun-Times and this month is serving as online Poet-in-Residence for the British newspaper, the Guardian, based in London.

Both appointments come on the heels of Newman’s latest collection of poetry, titled “fall,” which was re-released in paperback in August. In the book, each of the 72 different definitions of the title word engenders a poem.

Newman queried the Sun-Times this past summer, asking for a review of her book even though the newspaper doesn’t typically critique poetry. “The editor wrote back and said, 'You’re right, we don’t do poetry but we should,’ ” Newman said.

The Sun-Times editor asked to see Newman’s work and other writing samples, then offered her the poetry-critic post. “The idea that the book editor thinks people should be reading about poetry is pretty neat to me, so I wanted to be part of it,” Newman said, adding that she has also been asked to profile literary figures for the newspaper.

The Guardian newspaper, a major daily in England that traces its history back to 1821, was already familiar with Newman’s work. Reviewing “fall” in the newspaper last year, critic Danny Leigh described Newman’s poetry as breathtaking and her wit as addictive. The review significantly boosted sales of Newman’s poetry collection in the United Kingdom.

So it was perhaps not a huge surprise that the newspaper offered Newman the month-long Poet-in-Residence position. The Guardian conducts an online poetry workshop hosted each month by a different poet who creates an exercise, chooses the most interesting responses and offers an appraisal of them. Past workshops have been conducted by such important poets as Ruth Fainlight and John Burnside.

“A number of poets who I really admire have served as Poet-in-Residence, so I’m honored to be included in that group,” Newman said. Her workshop can be found online at http://books.guardian.co.uk/poetryworkshop/.

Newman also is working on a new collection of poetry and is collaborating with a video artist on an upcoming feature for the online journal, Born Magazine. A MacDowell Fellow, Newman won NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2004. Two of her previous poetry collections, “Order, or Disorder” and “Camera Lyrica,” won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize and the Beatrice Hawley Award, respectively.

She lives in DeKalb with her husband, Joe Bonomo, an NIU English instructor who won the first ever university Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction this past spring.

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