University of Rochester

Writers’ Block

SHARED VISION: James Longenbach and Joanna Scott share lives together as married parents of two children, colleagues in the Department of English, and close readers of each other's work.

James Longenbach, the Joseph H. Gilmore Professor of English, published his first book of criticism—Modernist Poetics of History—when he was 27, and has written several influential critical works in addition to two collections of poetry. His third collection, Draft of a Letter, which he says has been “designed around a series of oppositions between self and soul, joy and reason,” was published by the University of Chicago Press in April. John Ashbery, perhaps the foremost American poet at work today, said of the book: “James Longenbach’s dazzling lyrics draw their strength from the charged zone where change and permanency meet. The necessary coexistence of these two states results in poetry as inevitable and precise as a flower.”

Joanna Scott, the Roswell Smith Burrows Professor of English, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 with her novel The Manikin. This winter she published a collection of short stories entitled Everybody Loves Somebody. Scott describes the book as “a set of stories spanning the 20th century, spun around experiences of love, loss, and gain—a history (in miniature) of ordinary emotions.” Entertainment Weekly said that “reading the vivid, elliptical Joanna Scott’s superb new like observing humanity through a sensitive surveillance camera.”