University of Minnesota – May 15, 2007
By Deane Morrison
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
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."