New Books, Jazz-inspired Poetry, and Chinese Slippers

New page turners on the shelves

Bravery, humility, loyalty, and service are the common threads linking the soldiers profiled in Valor: Unsung Heroes From Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front by Mark Lee Greenblatt ’95.

Martha Riggins Brown M.R.E. ’59 uses her grandfather’s Civil War letters as a springboard to create a compelling fictional portrait of love, loss, and endurance in Holding Sweet Communion.

After successfully completing chemo and radiation, Beth Leibson M.P.P. ’93 faced a host of emotional, professional, and medical situations that prompted her to explore life after cancer in The Cancer Survivor Handbook.

In Billy Bowater: A Novel, E.C. “Redge” Hanes ’67 draws on his personal experiences of being part of a family dynasty (the hanes Corporation and hanes Brands), defending the arts during the Jesse helms era, and running for N.C. state senate to provide a fictionalized front-row seat to the spectacle of american politics.

Poet Nathaniel Mackey receives recognition

Poet, novelist, editor, and critic Nathaniel Mackey received the 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which honors a living U.S. poet for outstanding lifetime achievement. Mackey is the Reynolds Price Professor of creative writing in Duke’s English department and author of the National Book Award-winning Splay Anthem.

Established in 1986, the prize is sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. In announcing the award, Poetry magazine editor Don Share said, “The poetry of Nathaniel Mackey continues an American bardic line that unfolds from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass to H.D.’s Trilogy to Olson’s Maximus poems, winds through the whole of Robert Duncan’s work, and extends beyond all of these. In his poems, but also in his genre-defying serial novel (which has no beginning or end) and in his multifaceted critical writing, Mackey’s words always go where music goes: a brilliant and major accomplishment.”

Listen to Mackey read his poems, and read a recent interview with him, at

A student reminisces about a faraway home

Seven thousand miles from home, first-year student Ge Jin ’17 spent her fall break like many of her fellow Chinese students: staying on campus. She spent that time working on an assignment for a documentary photography class, an assignment that asked students to capture the theme of home or place. There’s No Place Like Home: Inside the Dorm Rooms of Chinese Students at an American University offers glimpses into how international students maintain connections with their far-off families and indigenous cultures—playing a melancholy tune on an ehru, a traditional Chinese instrument, or eating a piece of mooncake to commemorate the Asian mid-autumn festival.

“I learned not only from the project but also from studying here that when I leave my own country, I become more attached to it,” says Jin. “I also learned about my Chinese friends. Every day you see them smiling and being happy, and you ask them, how are you? They say they’re good, but you discover everyone is suffering from homesickness.”

Jin’s photo essay was published in Vanishing Point, the online documentary magazine for Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies.

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