Wednesday, April 01

Brookdale Newsroom

English Professor Makes Her Mark as a Poet

It has been a banner year for Laura McCullough. The 15-year Brookdale English professor and long-time poet recently published her second anthology of essays, Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race, through University of Georgia Press, and was selected as a featured artist in this year’s Best American Poetry collection by none other than Sherman Alexie.

Last month, McCullough’s previously unpublished poetry collection Molecularity & the Science of Light won honorable mention in the 2015 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize, while her fifth book of poetry, titled JERSEY MERCY, was recently accepted by Black Lawrence Press and is scheduled for publication next summer.

In the meantime, McCullough continues to enjoy lasting recognition from her 2013 book Rigger Death & Hoist Another. As part of her sabbatical next spring, the wordsmith will be rubbing elbows with acclaimed artists from across the globe during her writer’s residencies at the Betsy House in Miami and Stiwdio Maelor in North Wales.

Accolades, however, are nothing new to the poet/anthology editor/fiction writer/professor. Since publishing her first book in 2006, she has collected a Kinereth Gensler Award, was a finalist for the Forward Book of the Year Award and has earned a wide range of arts fellowships and scholarships.

For McCullough, all that really matters is what she is working on next.

“My next book, JERSEY MERCY, means a great deal to me,” she said. “Jersey is so maligned, and I really have come to love our little state – especially the Jersey Shore. So these poems are all located in this area, in places like Red Bank, Eatontown and Asbury Park.”

The book, McCullough said, is partly dedicated to her mentor, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Stephen Dunn.

“As a collection, it marries my training in fiction with lyric poetry. And it is character driven,” she said. “The main character is named Mercy, and many of the poems are about the Jersey shore, the people who live here, the music scene, and things like that.”

Read a selection from JERSEY MERCY here.

Since joining the Brookdale faculty in 2000, McCullough has also brought her talents to bear for the good of her students. She helped found and served as a director for the college’s creative writing degree program and the annual Visiting Writers Series, while working with her fellow faculty members to enroll aspiring students in annual writing conferences and poetry festivals.

“We have a really vibrant creative writing faculty here at Brookdale, all of whom are actively working alongside our creative writing students,” McCullough said. “And I am proud to say that a number of our students have gone on past their bachelors’ degrees to get MFA degrees in writing, and are now beginning to teach and publish.”

McCullough is also a faculty member at the Sierra Nevada low-residency MFA program, and teaches for the Peter Murphy Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway. She is the founding editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations. Learn more by visiting her webpage.

Learn more about Brookdale’s creative writing program here.