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Rm 220 Presents: Tulane’s Jesmyn Ward and Peter Cooley Receive Accolades

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Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward, an associate professor of English at Tulane University, has been named one of two winners of the Strauss Living prize for literary excellence.

The award, given every five years by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, is worth $200,000 and will allow Ward, beginning in July, to devote two years to writing in lieu of her work as an associate professor of English. She will return to Tulane in 2018.

Ward is the author of Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, the latter of which won the 2011 National Book Award and was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her memoir, Men We Reaped, won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction and was named one of the best books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review.

Funded through a bequest by Harold and Mildred Strauss, the Strauss Livings were established in 1983 to benefit two writers of English prose literature. The late Harold Strauss was editor-in-chief of Alfred A. Knopf Inc. and is best known for publishing the early works of John Steinbeck and introducing important Japanese writers to Western readers.

The award marks the second consecutive year that a Tulane faculty member has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last year, Zachary Lazar, an associate professor of English, won the academy’s John Updike award.

Tulane’s Director of Creative Writing and English Professor Peter Cooley was chosen as a Louisianian of the Year by Louisiana Life magazine.

Each year, the editorial staff of Louisiana Life looks for Louisianians who have had great success in their own worlds. Those honored as Louisianians of the Year represent a small but impressive sample of the best of Louisiana.

Repeatedly recognized as an outstanding professor and scholar, Cooley has received Tulane’s Inspirational Professor Award, Newcomb Professor of the Year Award, and the Mellon Professorship. His work has been published in an enormous range of notable publications, from magazines such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic, to anthologies like Best American Poetry and Poets on Place. Cooley was also named Louisiana State Poet Laureate last fall.

This article was reposted from Press Street: Room 220, a NolaVie content partner.