English Professor Named Guggenheim Fellow


By Tom McLaughlin

Paul Lisicky, an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University–Camden, has been named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow for general nonfiction.

An accomplished writer, Lisicky was one of 178 scholars, artists, and scientists to receive the prestigious award in recognition of prior achievement and exceptional promise, out of a group of nearly 3,000 applicants in the United States and Canada.

Kris Lindenmeyer, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers–Camden, lauds Lisicky as a rising star in the literary world and a source of pride for Rutgers–Camden.

“Our students are very fortunate to have such a brilliant and talented writer as a teacher and mentor,” says Lindenmeyer. “It is especially gratifying to see that the Guggenheim Foundation has rewarded Paul for his unconventional and innovative work. Winning a Guggenheim Fellowship is an outstanding achievement for Paul and another recognition pointing to the high quality faculty at Rutgers University–Camden.”

A Philadelphia resident, Lisicky is the author of five books: The Narrow Door, Unbuilt Projects, The Burning House, Famous Builder, and Lawnboy.

In his latest book, The Narrow Door, selected as an Editors’ Choice by The New York Times, Lisicky crafts a collage of compelling scenes and images drawn from two relationships – one with the late novelist Denise Gess and the other with his ex-husband, poet Mark Doty – that he acknowledges helped shape the writer and person that he is today. The stirring memoir contemplates what it means to lose such close companions with whom so much of one’s life, identity, and experiences are intertwined.

His work has also appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Conjunctions, Ecotone, Fence, The Offing, Ploughshares, Tin House, and Unstuck.

Lisicky teaches in the low residency program at Sierra Nevada College and at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. He is also the editor of StoryQuarterly – a staple in the literary community, published under the auspices of the MFA program in creative writing at Rutgers–Camden – and serves on the Writing Committee of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

He has taught in the creative writing programs at Cornell University, New York University, Rutgers University–Newark, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington, among others.

Lisicky has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener/Copernicus Society, the Corporation of Yaddo, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation, affirms that this year’s Guggenheim Fellowship recipients – comprising a distinguished group of artists, writers, scholars, and scientists – represent the best of the best.

“Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group,” says Hirsch. “It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

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