Fairfield University MFA alumnus wins Peace Corps award for poetry


Image Matthew HamiltonMatthew Hamilton, a 2013 alumnus of the Fairfield University MFA in Creative Writing Program, has won the Peace Corps Writers 2013 Best Book of Poetry award for his first book, "The Land of the Four Rivers" (Cervena Barva Press, 2012).

Hamilton, who has been both a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill and a Benedictine monk, volunteered with the Peace Corps in Armenia (2006-08) and the Philippines (2008-10). His book contains 30 poems dealing with what he saw and experienced in Armenia. Readers have praised his poems' evocative clarity and accessibility.

"Expedition into Mystery" opens:

I walk over to a woman selling apricots
and buy half a kilo. Her gold teeth thank me.
Then I walk to Gorki Park, pluck one
of my treats out of the bag and take a bite.
Some of the juice falls on the sidewalk.
A dog walks over and licks it up.

"Matthew Hamilton's poetry is the perfect manifestation of art in the service of mankind," said Michael White, Ph.D., professor of English and director of Fairfield's MFA program. "His poems are skillfully crafted, highly nuanced, and beautifully imagistic, but they have the emotional power of a tsunami."

Mark Brazaitis, a fellow author and director of the creative writing program at West Virginia University, agreed. "If his poems were photographs, we would not only see them, we would step into them," he said in comments posted on the Peace Corps Writers blog. "They do what a surprising number of modern poems are too cowardly to do: They risk being understood."

In addition to his MFA from Fairfield, Hamilton holds a bachelor's degree from Belmont Abbey College. He is a former poetry reader for the Fairfield University MFA program's online journal, Mason's Road, and continues to read for the website Drunken Boat. He was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize and his work has been published in A-Minor Magazine, Atticus Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Noctua Review and Wilderness House Literary Review.

Hamilton is the librarian at Benedictine College Preparatory School, an all-male Catholic military school in Richmond, Virginia.

For more information on the MFA in Creative Writing Program, contact Elizabeth Hastings, ehastings@fairfield.edu or (203) 254-4000, ext. 2688.

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 8, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 68