WJU Alumnus Recognized by Massachusetts Cultural Council

  WJU Communications
  Thursday, February 15, 2018 2:03 PM
  Alumni, WJU News

Wheeling, WV


Poet and Wheeling Jesuit alumnus Jacob Strautmann ’99 is one of several artists to be recognized by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Massachusetts Cultural Council's (MCC) Artist Fellowships recognize exceptional work by Massachusetts artists across a range of disciplines. js_headshot.jpgThe highly competitive awards provide artists crucial validation among their peers and the public. They catalyze artistic advancement and pave the way for creative innovation of enduring cultural value.

The committee reviewed 15 poems from Strautmann's forthcoming book The Land of the Dead is Open for Business (Four Way Books, Spring 2020). The poems wrangle with the legacy of the extractive industry in his native West Virginia. 

“I've been doubly lucky in the past year or so. In November 2016 my debut book of poetry was accepted for publication, and now I’ve received the MCC Artistic Fellowship,” Strautmann said.

After graduating from WJU in 1999, Strautmann completed his master’s degree at Boston University where he studied poetry. He is a member of the BU faculty, teaching creative writing and serving as the managing director of Boston Playwright’s Theatre.

“I've always been greatly fulfilled by teaching creative writing, something I first saw done right by John Whitehead at Wheeling Jesuit. In the classes I've taught at Boston University, I've been lucky enough to find a few students who want to pursue writing beyond the classroom. The fellowship and my book won't make me a better teacher, but I hope they offer my students some proof of the stick-to-it-ness line all writing teachers preach, and maybe give those students some inspiration to keep exploring the craft,” Strautmann added.

This is Strautmann’s first time winning a fellowship from the MCC.  

“When I went back to write at my regular coffee shop the morning after I learned of the award, one lovely thought I carried with me was that these ‘West Virginia poems’ I've been working on are also interesting to some people up here in the northeast. And in a two-poet household, I was proud to share one milestone with my partner, Valerie Duff – she is a former recipient of the MCC award,” Strautmann added.

Strautmann's poems have appeared in Forklift, Ohio, Unsplendid, The Harlequin, Salamander Magazine, The Boston Globe, Agni Online, The Appalachian Journal, Solstice, Jam Tarts, Quiddity (where he won the Editor’s Prize in Poetry), and Appalachian Heritage. His poems are forthcoming in The Southern Humanities Review.

The Cameron High School graduate also is a contributing editor for Salamander Magazine in Boston.

The photo by Kalman Zabarsky

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