UA English Professor Wins 2016 Mark Twain Award for Midwestern Literature
TUSCALOOSA — Michael Martone, a professor of English and creative writing at The University of Alabama, was selected as the winner of the 2016 Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contributions to Midwestern Literature.
Martone, author of more than 25 books and anthologies, joins such past Mark Twain Award recipients as Gwendolyn Brooks, Ted Kooser and Philip Levine. The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature will present the award on Friday, June 3, at Michigan State University.
“I feel really good about the award,” he said. “It came out of the blue. I had no idea people were thinking about me so that makes it really special.
“It’s a strange thing because it’s a regional group having to deal with Midwest literature. It is true that I write a lot about the Midwest, but I’ve lived in Alabama for 20 years. A lot of Midwesterners don’t think of me as a Midwesterner because I live in the South, and Southerners don’t look at me as a Southerner because I’m from the Midwest.”
Martone was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He attended Butler University and graduated from Indiana University. He holds a master’s degree from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
The Mark Twain Award was established in 1980 by David D. Anderson, a founder for the society, to honor the Midwest’s greatest writers, said Marcia Noe, awards chair for the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. The award’s first recipient was Jack Conroy.
“Five people were up for this award,” Noe said. “Michael was selected for his versatility and originality across several genres of Midwestern literature.”
Martone will receive a plaque, have his name added to the list of award winners on the cover of the society’s journal and participate in a reading from his most recent book, “Winesburg, Indiana.” The society’s president will also chair a panel discussion on Martone’s body of work, which stretches back from his early childhood.
“I always saw my mother writing,” he said. “I just thought that’s what you did. You get up, brush your teeth, go to work, come home and write. So it goes back all the way.”
The English department is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.