The Columns

W&L’s Deborah Miranda to Lecture on the Constant State of Transition: Mapping the Borderlands between Scholarship and Poetry

— by on February 25th, 2015

Deborah A. Miranda, professor of English at Washington and Lee University, will give her inaugural lecture marking her appointment as the John Lucian Smith Jr. Memorial Term Professor on Monday, March 2, at 8 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in Leyburn Library.

The title of her lecture is “In a Constant State of Transition: Mapping the Borderlands Between Scholarship and Poetry.” It is free and open to the public, and will be streamed live online.

“I am a mestiza,” said Miranda. “Half Indian, half white. Half poet, half academic. Split between the East and West Coasts of the North American continent, I have spent most of my life negotiating the complexity of in-betweenness, a place where the work of my scholarship often clashes with the work of my heart’s passion. Research demands facts, precision, efficiency, respect for deadlines, while poetry demands a suspension of time, ambiguity, messiness, irreverence for rules.

“Is it possible to create a true mestiza work out of these two beloved but very separate cultures, to conceive and give birth to a mixed, hybrid, generative and balanced creativity? What would this kind of research look like? What would this kind of poetry look like? Is it possible to create this new kind of space in the in-between, and how would one keep one’s balance on constantly shifting ground? This talk is a map of surviving that encounter, that clash and all its glorious consequences—in a body, a life and a career.”

Miranda earned her B.S. in teaching moderate special needs children from Wheelock College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. Before joining the W&L faculty in 2004, she taught at Pacific Lutheran University.

Her books include “Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir” (2013); “The Zen of La Llorona: Poems” (2005); and “Indian Cartography: Poems” (1999). She co-edited “Sovereign Erotics: An Anthology of Two-Spirit Writing” (2011). Forthcoming is “Raised by Humans” (2015) and under contract is “The Hidden Stories of Isabel Meadows and other Lacunae of California Indian History.”

Her poetry has been published in over 100 journals, and she has over 20 published articles.

Miranda has appeared in various media such as television, radio and stage. She has had more than 25 publications in anthologies and literary journals including “Obsession: Sestinas in the 21st-Century;” “Women Write Resistance;” “En esa redonda nacion de sangre.” She also is the author of six academic articles.

She has won the Gold Medalist from Independent Publishers Association (“Bad Indians”); Pathfinder Award from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers (“Sovereign Erotics”) and a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship, among others.

The John Lucian Smith Jr. Memorial Term Professorship was established in 2010 through the generous support of friends of Smith. It is a permanently endowed fund at Washington and Lee University providing support for a faculty member in the English Department or the School of Law who is judged to be excellent in teaching and in professional contributions. The award recognizes a different professor every three to five years.

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