Faculty Spotlight this month highlights Jennifer Boyden, winner of the 2010 prestigious Brittingham Prize in Poetry. Jennifer has been on faculty at Walla Walla Community College since 2001 receiving full-time status in 2004 and tenure in 2007. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in creative writing in 1991 from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Jennifer’s desire to study with Nance Van Winkle, a renowned poet and fictional writer, brought her to Eastern Washington University where Nance taught creative writing. Jennifer received her M.F. A. in Creative Writing at Eastern Washington University in 1995.
Words, beautifully and artfully put together have been a passion of Jennifer’s since she was a young girl. She began writing poetry at a very young age and over the years this gift has developed and allowed her to explore several different art forms. Jennifer had collaborated with her artist husband, Ian Boyden, on the sculpture “Convergences,” which is a public installation in downtown Walla Walla. She has also collaborated with Buster Simpson, notable Seattle Artist who contracted with Jennifer to provide text for his “Poetic License” sculpture situated along Mill Creek near Walla Walla Community College. Jennifer’s poetry has been featured with the work of several renowned photographers, most recently with Jocelyn Lee and Peter de Lory. Peter de Lory, a Seattle photographer invited Jennifer to write an essay which was highlighted in the trifold of his most recent art show.
In the mid 90’s Jennifer was awarded the PEN Northwest Wilderness Writing residency, which is an award given to one writer a year. She stated that one of the criteria of this writing residency is the ability to live by oneself allowing the writer to reflect and focus on time, space, sensations, within the present moment without any outside distractions. She said that time became very elastic there and that the quality of the day did not become measured in how many things she could accomplish, but what she learned from each thing she did. The residency allowed Jennifer to live and write by herself in an isolated cabin in the remote region of the Rogue River’s Wild and Scenic Region for nine months.
The poetry of Jennifer Boyden has been published in a number literary journals such as Paris Review, Cimarron Review, Poetry East, The Journal to name a few. Just this past month Jennifer was featured in an interview conducted by Weston Cutter for the Ploughshares online journal. In the interview Jennifer was recognized for her poetry and honored as a gifted poet. Jennifer received word on Christmas Eve of 2008 that she had won the Brittingham Prize and Poetry, which is an annual prize with a purse of $2,500 and publication of work at the University of Wisconsin Press. As part of the award, Jennifer was flown to Madison, Wisconsin to meet the publishing team and honored with dinner and reading of her poetry. Her book, The Mouth of Grazing Things, was released in March 2010 (http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/4745.htm).
Walla Walla Community College is honored to have a poet with such exceptional gift on faculty as Jennifer Boyden and are pleased to recognized her with Faculty Spotlight in March.