University of Minnesota May 15, 2007
By Deane Morrison
(An Excerpt)

Few writers have been able to capture the thoughts and feelings of the contemplative mind as well as Patricia Hampl. The author of numerous essays, poems, and memoirs, Hampl was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for her book "I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory" and received the Pushcart Prize for her short story "The Bill Collector's Vacation." As editor of the anthology "Burning Bright," she collected sacred poems from the Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions.

In her memoirs "Virgin Time" and "A Romantic Education," Hampl holds a magnifying glass to her Catholic and Czech-American roots, respectively. In "Blue Arabesque," she takes a journey through the art world and the artistic life, starting with her profound reaction to Matisse's "Woman before an Aquarium." All her books have won praise for their exquisite prose, and her last three have been named "Notable Books" of the year by the New York Times Book Review. In 1990 she won a MacArthur Fellowship--also called a "genius grant." Her latest book, "The Florist's Daughter," is due out in October.

Her impressive resume notwithstanding, Hampl has reason to rejoice at her and her fellow CLA professors' election to the academy.

"The real satisfaction for me is that the Academy includes artists along with scholars and scientists in its membership," she says. "Too often, the arts are seen as decorative, merely an ornament on American intellectual life. But this inclusion reminds us that the arts are central to the American enterprise. I'm delighted, too, that the University of Minnesota is being recognized by the Academy in a broad array of disciplines with new members."

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