Genius Rewarded

One of my favorite events of the year happened this week. Yes, a certain relationship milestone occurred, but aside from that … the MacArthur Fellows “genius grants” were announced. Although the issue of this press release is not marked on my calendar, there’s always a moment of “oh, yeah!” delight when I unexpectedly hear about it, usually on NPR.

About a year ago, while I was taking a poetry class, I was so taken with the concept that I tried to write a poem about it, the first in what was meant to be a series of odes to all of 2007’s recipients:

In September
MacArthur names 24 fellows—
a playwright, a blues musician, an installation artist,
a public health physician, a medieval historian, a neuroroboticist—
to receive
five hundred thousand dollars
paid out over five years
advancing their expertise,
engaging in a bold new work,
or changing fields altogether, altering the direction of their careers.
Less an award for accomplishments of the past
than an investment in future potential.
We meet them
and, inspired, marvel.

This year a thirty-one-year-old novelist made the ranks, as well as an astronomer, neuroscientist, inventor, urban farmer, geriatrician, optical physicist, saxophonist, critical care physician, structural engineer, stage lighting designer and anthropologist, among others.

What fascinates me about the MacArthur fellows is how they demonstrate the variety of and capacity for human intellect, creativity, and altruism. Each is a story for fiction or nonfiction.

Caught in the ’Net

Poet Adam O’Riordan finds inspiration in the Urban Dictionary.


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