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NMSU English professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

  • By Nicole E. Drake
  • 575-646-3221
  • ndrake@nmsu.edu
  • Apr. 29, 2021
Head and shoulders of woman.

Connie Voisine, New Mexico State University English professor and Creative Writing director, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was created in 1925 by U.S. Sen. Simon Guggenheim and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, John Simon Guggenheim. The Foundation offers fellowships to individuals who exceed in scholarship as artists, writers, scientists, historians and scholars in a variety of disciplines to assist them in furthering their work.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Voisine said. “I’m thrilled. It’s a wonderful opportunity and it will definitely help me get some more time to write.”

Only 184 candidates were selected from among nearly 3,000 applicants. Voisine was chosen for her exceptional works in poetry. She has published five books. Voisine’s first book, “Cathedral of the North,” won the Associated Writing Program’s Award in Poetry. Another book, “Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream,” was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Voisine’s poetry has been published in a number of well-known publications including The New Yorker and Poetry Magazine.

“The Guggenheim Fellowship is a prestigious award,” said Enrico Pontelli, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Dr. Voisine is joining an elite group which includes Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award winners and others. It is a recognition of the high caliber of her work as a poet.”

Voisine’s Guggenheim Fellowship includes a $52,000 award. The funds will allow her release time from teaching so she can complete a book she has been working on about a woman detective.

“I have long been a fan of classic and contemporary detective novels, especially police procedurals,” Voisine said. “When I was stuck for a next project, I began writing poems from and to different detective novels and TV shows, and from there a character, or persona emerged, a woman detective who struggles with the violence she faces daily, especially against women.”

Policing itself as a source of violence is being scrutinized and Voisine sees this charged environment as “a place to talk about a basic human need, a feeling of safety. That’s where I am at now with my book, and with this Guggenheim fellowship, I hope to finish it.”

The Guggenheim Fellowship is intended to help artists of all kinds, including university faculty, gain the time away from the demands of their jobs to focus on their research and creative endeavors.

“I think it’s important for our faculty and our university to make time for research,” she said. “Everyone at New Mexico State is devoted to their students and these kinds of honors can give a professor a bit of a breather to focus on developing their research for the university and their students.”