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Two U of U English Faculty Receive Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships

Guggenheim Fellow Lance Olsen

April 12, 2012 – The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced today it has awarded Fellowships to a diverse group of 181 scholars, artists and scientists in its 88th annual competition for the United States and Canada.

Two of the Fellows—Katharine Coles and Lance Olsen—are professors of English at the University of Utah. Both Coles and Olsen are faculty members in the U’s Creative Writing Program, which is ranked in the top five in the country. They join their colleagues Jacqueline Osterow and Terry Tempest Williams, who were both awarded fellowships in 1997.

“It is thrilling for the College of Humanities and for the University as a whole to have two recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships in one year,” states Robert Newman, Dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Utah. “The Guggenheim is one of the most prestigious fellowships nationally and reaffirms the enormous contributions Kate Coles and Lance Olsen continue to make in their well-respected and groundbreaking creative work. These new awards solidify the Creative Writing Program’s standing as one of the very top programs of its kind in the country.”

In a release issued today, the Foundation states that “since its establishment in 1925, the Foundation has granted over $298 million in Fellowships to more than 17,300 individuals. Scores of Nobel, Pulitzer, and other prize winners are listed among the rolls of the Foundation’s Fellows.”

Lance Olsen teaches fiction writing and has published widely. He is author of eleven novels, one hypermedial project, four critical studies, four short-story collections, a poetry chapbook, and two textbooks about fiction writing, as well as editor of two collections of essays about innovative contemporary fiction. His most recent novels include Calendar of Regrets, Head in Flames, Anxious Pleasures: After Kafka, and Nietzsche’s Kisses. His short stories, essays, poems, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals, magazines, and anthologies, including Conjunctions, Fiction International, Iowa Review, Village Voice, BOMB, and Best American Non-Required Reading. His novel Tonguing the Zeitgeist was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.

Olsen is an N.E.A. Fellowship and Pushcart Prize recipient, a Fulbright Scholar, and former governor-appointed Idaho Writer-in-Residence. His work has been translated into Italian, Polish, Turkish, and Finnish. He has taught at the University of Idaho, the University of Kentucky, the University of Iowa, the University of Virginia, on summer and semester-abroad programs in Oxford and London, on a Fulbright in Finland, at many writing conferences, and elsewhere.

He teaches experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah and serves as Chair of the Board of Directors at Fiction Collective Two; founded in 1974, FC2 is one of America’s best-known ongoing literary experiments and progressive art communities. He is also fiction editor at Western Humanities Review. With his wife, assemblage-artist and filmmaker Andi Olsen, he divides his time between Salt Lake City and the mountains of central Idaho. Olsen holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and joined the faculty of the University of Utah in 2007.

Katharine Coles is Utah State’s Poet Laureate, and has been on the faculty of the U since 1997.  Her published works include the novels Fire Season and The Measurable World and four collections of poems, Fault, The Golden Years of the Fourth Dimension, A History of the Garden, and The One Right Touch. Her fifth collection, Flight, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2013. Her stories, poems, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, Image, upstreet, and Poetry, among many other journals.

Her poems have been included in numerous public arts projects, including Salt Lake City’s Passages Park, for which she served on the design team; and Numbers and Measures (, an installation by Anna Campbell Bliss in the Leroy Cowles Mathematics Building at the University of Utah. Her ongoing collaboration with visual artist Maureen O’Hara Ure ( has resulted in two major installations and two artist’s books, Beast and Swoon. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN, among many other organizations. 

She is currently on the faculty of the English Department at the University of Utah, where she teaches creative writing and literature and, with mathematician and biologist Fred Adler (, co-directs the Utah Symposium in Science and Literature (, which she originated in 2001. In addition to her position at the University of Utah, she served in 2009 and 2010 as the inaugural Director of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. In 2010, she traveled to Antarctica to write poems under the auspices of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. During her Guggenheim Fellowship period, she will be extending this work into a lyric examination of the history of Antarctic exploration.

For more information on the Fellows and their projects, please visit the Foundation’s website:,