Faculty Highlights: Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Assistant Professor of English

Assistant professor of English Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon has been named a finalist for a 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for her poetry collection "Open Interval" (University of Pittsburgh Press).

Photo of Faculty Highlights: Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Faculty Highlights: Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Fifty nominees for the 30th annual book prizes were announced Feb. 22 in 10 categories, including history, biography, graphic novels, current interest, mystery/thriller, science/technology, and young adult literature. Winners will be announced at a ceremony April 23 in Los Angeles.

The poems in "Open Interval" draw on the intersections of astronomy and mathematics, history, literature and lived experience. The collection was previously nominated for a 2009 National Book Award.

"I had gotten the impression just from talking to people that they really liked this book, and a couple of reviews came out that were good," Van Clief-Stefanon said.

Her other books include the collection "Black Swan," winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize; and "Poems in Conversation and a Conversation" (2008) with Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and delivered "Praise Song for the Day" for Barack Obama's inauguration.

Van Clief-Stefanon teaches poetry to undergraduates and graduate students in the Creative Writing Program and also teaches in Cornell's Prison Education Program.

"I've gotten a lot of support from my colleagues in creative writing and the English department in general, and in giving me time to write while I was working on 'Open Interval,'" she said. "It has been great to have that kind of pay off."