Pulitzer Prize-winning Science Columnist: Natalie Angier

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Natalie Angier ’78. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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BRIEF SCOPE OF THE PAST

Natalie Angier was born on February 16, 1958 in New York City, and was raised in the Bronx and New Buffalo, Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan for two years before transferring to Barnard, where she graduated with high honors in 1978. As an undergrad, Angier studied English, physics, and astronomy.

BEYOND BARNARD

At the age of 22, Angier was hired as a founding staff member for Time Inc.’s science magazine, Discover which was first launched in 1980. For four years, she wrote articles about biology. She had also been a senior science columnist for the Time magazine, an editor at Savvy, and a professor at the New York University’s Graduate Program in Science and Environmental Reporting. In 1990, she landed a position working for The New York Times. She later became a columnist for Science Times in January 2007.

Angier’s publications include her first book Natural Obsessions (1988), The Beauty of the Beastly (1995), Woman: An Intimate Geography (1999) and The Canon: A Whirligig Tour through the Beautiful Basics of Science (2007).

RECOGNITION

Angier’s first book, Natural Obsessions (1988) was named a notable book of the year by The New York Times and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition, her third book, Woman: An Intimate Geography (1999) was a National Book Award finalist and her most recent book, “The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science” (2007), won the Robert P. Balles prize for critical thinking. Her books have been translated from eight to over 24 different languages.

Angier also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for beat reporting. The submission consisted of ten features she wrote on topics ranging from scorpions to sexual infidelity in the animal kingdom among others. Her numerous other awards include the AAAS award for excellence in journalism, the Lewis Thomas Award for distinguished writing in the life sciences, the General Motors International award for writing about cancer, the Barnard Distinguished Alumna award and membership in the American Philosophical Society. She had also been awarded a top rating of four stars among seven other journalists by The Forbes MediaGuide, an appraisal of 500 U.S. journalists. Her writing has also made its way into The Atlantic, Smithsonian, National Geographic, The American Scholar, Parade, O magazine, Washington Monthly, Geo, Slate and many other print and online magazines. Moreover, her essays have been published in a number of anthologies, including “The Bitch in the House,” “Sisterhood Is Forever,” “The New Science Journalists” and “The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing.” She was also the editor of the 2002 edition of “The Best American Science and Nature Writing” and the 2009 edition of “The Best American Science Writing.”

In September of 2017, Angier interviewed Barnard’s new president, Sian Beilock, published in a Barnard news article called, “Beilock Unlocked: Pulitzer Prize-Winner Natalie Angier ’78 Interviews Barnard President.”

Angier now lives in Maryland, with her husband, Rick Weiss, a science writer for the Washington Post.

RESOURCES

Angier, Natalie. “But What About the Tooth Fairy, Mom? Raising a Healthy God-free Child in a Hopelessly God-struck Nation.” Freethought Today 20, no. 9 (2003) – Emperor Has No Clothes Award Winner

Aziza Rahman ’20

SOURCES

Edge Foundation. “Natalie Angier: Pulitzer prize winning science writer for The New York Times.” Edge, Edge Foundation, July 9, 2018, accessed July 9, 2018, https://www.edge.org/memberbio/natalie_angier.

The New York Times Company. “Natalie Angier.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, accessed July 9, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/by/natalie-angier.

World Science Foundation. “Natalie Angier.” World Science Festival, World Science Foundation, accessed July 9, 2018, https://www.worldsciencefestival.com/participants/natalie_angier/.

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Award-winning Writer, Professor, and Activist: June Jordan

Meet the face of our newest pin, alum June Jordan. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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Jordan’s Beginnings

June Millicent Jordan (1936-2002) was born in Harlem to Granville Ivanhoe Jordan and Mildred Maud Jordan, two West Indian immigrants. The Jordan family moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn when June was five. As we learn in Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood, Jordan had a complicated family life growing up, in which her father encouraged her to embrace literature and to be strong, but also subjected her to physical abuse. Jordan started writing poetry as young as age seven. Throughout her educational experiences, she had to face overwhelmingly white institutions. Jordan was the only black student at Midwood High School in Brooklyn before she transferred, having received a scholarship to Northfield School For Girls. Northfield (now co-ed and called Northfield-Mount Hermon School), was a predominantly white prep school in Massachusetts. Jordan went on to study English at Barnard as a commuter student. While at Barnard, Jordan was featured in Focus, the college’s literary magazine. She was one of four black students during her time at Barnard (1953-1957), and was frustrated with the curriculum and competitive environment at the school. In her essay, “Notes of a Barnard Dropout,” which Jordan delivered as a talk at the BCRW‘s (then the Women’s Center) first Reid Lecture in 1975 (alongside Alice Walker), and which was later published in her 1981 book Civil Wars, Jordan states:

No one ever presented me with a single Black author, poet, historian, personage, or idea for that matter. Nor was I ever assigned a single woman to study as a thinker, or writer, or poet, or life force. Nothing that I learned, here, lessened my feeling of pain or confusion and bitterness as related to my origins: my street, my family, my friends. Nothing showed me how I might try to alter the political and economic realities underlying our Black condition in white America.

Because of her disappointment at the college, Jordan left and returned to Barnard a couple of times. One of the reasons she left was to marry Michael Meyer, who was a white student at Columbia University. After they married in 1955, she attended the University of Chicago for a year and studied anthropology before returning to Barnard again. Jordan ultimately left Barnard for good in 1957. Facing difficulties as an interracial couple, Meyer and Jordan divorced in 1966, and Jordan took care of their son Christopher Meyer.

Career and Activism

Jordan’s early career was largely influenced by the political climate of the 1960’s, as she wrote about the 1964 Harlem Riots and was concerned and involved with both the Black Power and Black Arts Movements. She worked in film, as a journalist, as a researcher and writer for Mobilization for Youth in New York, and also collaborated with the architect Buckminster Fuller on aesthetic housing for low-income members of the Harlem community. She was deeply concerned with racial, spatial, economic, gender, and sexuality justice. She also had a strong focus on children. Her first book, Who Look At Me was intended for young readers, and she taught many workshops for students of color.

Jordan soon became a college professor, first teaching English and literature at City College in 1967, and going on to work at Connecticut College, Sarah Lawrence College, Yale, and SUNY Stony Brook. She became a full professor at Stony Brook in 1982, directing the poetry center and creative writing program during her time there. In 1989 Jordan started at the University of California, Berkeley in the African-American Studies department. At Berkeley, she also started Poetry for the People, a group that brought poetry to community groups in the surrounding area as a tool for political empowerment.

Writing

Over the course of her life, Jordan wrote or edited 28 books, essays, and children’s novels, as well as the libretto for “I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky.” Some of Jordan’s works of poetry include Some Changes (1971), Living Room (1985) and Kissing God Goodbye: Poems 1991-1997 (1997). She incorporates themes such as bisexuality, blackness, and family to make her poetry personal and political. She often wrote in and advocated for the use of Black English. In addition to poetry, Jordan is well-known for her political writing. She was a columnist for the Progressive, and also wrote essays on topics ranging from education, to sexism, to terrorism. Adrienne Rich, in the foreward to Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan, writes of Jordan: “In a sense unusual among twentieth-century poets of the United States, she believed in and lived the urgency of the word—along with action—to resist abuses of power and violations of dignity in—and beyond—her country.” Thus, for Jordan, writing was a tool of political expression and action, as well as an autobiographical and personal outlet.

In an interview with Alternative Radio, Jordan states that the role of the poet in society:

is to deserve the trust of people who know that what you do is work with words… Always to be as honest as possible and to be as careful about the trust invested in you as you possibly can. Then the task of a poet of color, a black poet, as a people hated and despised, is to rally the spirit of your folks…I have to get myself together and figure out an angle, a perspective, that is an offering, that other folks can use to pick themselves up, to rally and to continue or, even better, to jump higher, to reach more extensively in solidarity with even more varieties of people to accomplish something. I feel that it’s a spirit task.

Jordan was honored for this task, as she earned many awards for her writing. She won the 1991 PEN Center USA West Freedom to Write Award, the 1994 Ground Breakers-Dream Makers Award from The Woman’s Foundation, and the 1995-1998 Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writers Award. She also received a 1969-1970 Rockefeller grant for creative writing, a 1979 Yaddo residency, a 1982 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and 1984 Achievement Award for International Reporting from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lectureship from the University of California at Berkeley, and a congressional citation for her writing and activism.

-Sarah Barlow-Ochshorn ’20

Sources

“About June.” Accessed June 28, 2018. http://www.junejordan.net/about-june.html.

“Bio.” Accessed June 28, 2018. http://www.junejordan.net/bio.html.

Halasz, Piri. “‘Focus’ Keeps High Quality But Falls Short In Execution.” Barnard Bulletin (New York), March 24, 1955. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/bc:bulletin-19550324-2.

“Jordan, June 1936-2002.” Contemporary Black Biography, Encyclopedia.com, accessed June 28, 2018. https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/history/historians-miscellaneous-biographies/june-jordan.

Jordan, June. Civil Wars. Beacon Press, 1981.

Poetry Foundation. “June Jordan.” Accessed June 28, 2018. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/june-jordan.

Rosser, Felice. “June Jordan: Black, Woman, Poet.” Barnard Bulletin (New York), March 22, 1976. http://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/islandora/object/bc:bulletin-19760322-11.

Smith, Dinita. “June Jordan, 65, Poet and Political Activist.” The New York Times, June 18, 2002. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/18/arts/june-jordan-65-poet-and-political-activist.html.

 

Poet, Playwright, and Astrologer of a Generation: Ariana Reines

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Ariana Reines (’03). To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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Ariana Reines lives a life full of language and interpretation, crafting a path out of the diverse but interconnected fields of writing, translation, performance, and astrology. Reines has written a variety of poetry, plays, and prose, all the while teaching workshops and astrologizing (her term). Her writing immerses itself in themes of love, the body, eroticism, abjection, spirituality, technology, and the occult, among others.

Her Life

Reines, originally from Salem, MA, studied French and English when she came to Barnard. While she was here, Reines won creative writing awards, worked in the writing center, and was a selected to be a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society before graduating Summa Cum Laude. She went on to get a masters in Media & Communication from the European Graduate School (2006), and spent two years as a doctoral fellow in French and Romance Philiology at Columbia (2004-2006). After the earthquake in 2010, Reines traveled to Haiti several times to help with relief efforts in a naturopathy clinic there. Now, she continues to write, teach workshops around the word, and provide astrology readings.

A Bit on Her Craft

In a conversation with fellow writer Ben Lerner, Reines characterizes her performance art as distinct from the public nature of her writing, but goes on to draw connections between the two art forms in terms of the “hospitality” required for both:

Performance is not something to professionalize, or to aspire to. But I do receive these invitations. In a way my job is to receive and respond to invitations. My intentions with performance are much more private than with writing. But the hospitality necessitated by writing with care taught me to try to be hospitable with performance also.

Such a mindset reflects the care with which Reines approaches the multifaceted forms of creativity in her work. It also indicates the open vulnerability of Reines’s writing, as well as the complex ways in which she goes about addressing the reader. In the same piece, Lerner and Reines discuss the use of first and second person in their writing. Reines’s comments about her use of the pronouns “you” and “I” also speak to the issues of media, politics, and technology that her writing takes up:

The earlier “you,” the one in the first two books [The Cow and Coeur de Lion], was the Bush-era “you.” It’s the “you” of YouTube and advertising. It’s really brutalized. It’s what the impoverished “I” is made of. The “I” is just the object of the address of advertising, of George W. Bush, of ATMs. And the weird thing is that “you,” like the “thou,” the divine “thou,” isn’t expected to respond, only to buy in. You’re not expected to answer, just to ante-up or pay in. Even if there’s a comment box.

Reines’s concern for the “I” comes up again in her episode of NPR’s Bookworm. In the podcast, Reines articulates the importance of the “I” to the ethics of poetry, and advocates for its return to American writing. Host Michael Silverblatt identifies Reines as, “one of the crucial voices of her generation.” This label is quite fitting, as Reines’s work addresses many current issues in a complex, yet oftentimes emotionally clarifying, way.

Her Work

Reines has written a number of books of poetry and chapbooks. Her full collections of poetry include Alberta Prize winner The Cow (2006), Coeur de Lion (2007), Mercury (2011), and A Sand Book (forthcoming 2019). Other publications include The Origin of the World (2014), Thursday (2012), Beyond Relief (with Celina Su, Belladonna*, 2013), as well as Tiffany’s Poems and Ramayana (a set of chapbooks from 2015). She also judged the 2013 National Poetry Series. Her 2009 play “Telephone” won two Obie awards, and was published this year by Wonder Books.

Reines has completed several works of translation, including Charles Baudelaire’s My Heart Laid Bare (2009), Jean-Luc Hennig’s The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore (2009), and Tiqqun’s Preliminary Materials Toward a Theory of the Young-Girl (2012).

She has performed at the Whitney Museum of American ArtSolomon R, Guggenheim MuseumThe HammerThe Swiss InstituteRenaissance Society, and has taught at UC Berkeley, Columbia University, The New School, Tufts, Poets HouseThe Poetry ProjectThe Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, the Fine Arts Work Center, ANCIENT EVENINGS, and more.

To read more… 

In addition to Reines’s books, you can read more of her writing on her website. Also, check out her current column on Artforum!

-Sarah Barlow-Ochshorn ’20

Sources

Lerner, Ben and Ariana Reines. “Ben Lerner & Ariana Reines.” BOMB Magazine. October 1, 2014. https://bombmagazine.org/articles/ben-lerner-ariana-reines/.

Poetry Foundation. “Ariana Reines.” Accessed June 4, 2018. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/ariana-reines.

Reines, Ariana. “About.” Accessed June 4, 2018, http://lazyeyehaver.com/.

Reines, Ariana. “Ariana Reines” Interview by Michael Silverblatt. Bookworm, NPR. April 24, 2008. Audio, http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/bookworm/ariana-reines.

Tea, Michelle. “Coming Up @ Radar: Ariana Reines!” Radar Productions. June 4, 2012. http://www.radarproductions.org/2012/06/04/coming-up-radar-ariana-reines/.

 

New Collection from Eleanore Myers Jewett on Display in Lehman Hall

Eleanore Myers '12, circa 1911. From The Mortarboard 1912, p.191. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archive

The Barnard Archives has recently received from Jane Stickler an astounding collection of materials belonging to her mother Eleanore Myers Jewett (Class of 1912).  Four scrapbooks from Mrs. Jewett’s years at Barnard were donated in addition to an annotated 1912 Mortarboard, for which Mrs. Jewett served as the Editor-in-Chief, and first edition of her children’s novel Felicity Finds a Way. An exhibit featuring photographs from these scrapbooks and her personal copy of the Mortarboard is currently on display on the first floor of Lehman Hall.

As one can usually expect of a Barnard alumnae, Mrs. Jewett lived a rewarding and richly textured life. She used her gift of language not only to satisfy her own intellect but also to encourage young children to read.Her works are engaging and range from periods and places such as 12th century England to ancient Korea.

Born April 4, 1890 in New York City, Eleanore Myers Jewett was an ambitious, witty and prolific woman who had a strong sense of self and a healthy dose of mischievous humor. She was a superb storyteller and pushed herself to excel in higher education at a time when few women had the chance. She put her undergraduate degree in Medieval English to good use, having it serve as the basis of her creative and detailed historical fiction for children. A native New Yorker who wished to be as specific and accurate a writer as possible, Mrs. Jewett wrote about faraway lands such as Tibet, Korea, and Egypt only after research and discussions.

In 1908 she enrolled in Barnard College as a commuter student. There she grew into herself, taking advantage of the many opportunities and activities the school offered. She was well-liked by her classmates, evident due to her being named “best all-around,” “famous in the future,” and “cleverest” in the 1912 Mortarboard. During these formative years she always made the time to hone her craft: writing. She worked on the Barnard Bulletin and the Mortarboard as an editor.

In addition to spending long hours working on student publications, Jewett was a member of the Young Women’s Christian Association, the fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma, and not only the Vice President of her sophomore class but President her senior year. She played a fairy in Comus and Borachio in Much Ado about Nothing. In the class of 1912 versus the class of 1913 Greek Games, she proved her versatility by placing first in both serious lyric and hurdles. Her verse must have had merit because in the Greek Games competition between the classes of 1911 and 1912 she won 2nd place.

After graduating from Barnard in 1912, Jewett matriculated at Columbia University’s School of Philosophy to earn a Masters in Medieval Comparative Literature in 1915. She remained in the city teaching English and History to 5th through 7th graders at Miss Jacob’s School until her marriage to Dr. Harvey Jewett whom she met while he was studying for his MD at Columbia University. Together they relocated to Canandaigua, New York where Dr. Jewett’s family had practiced medicine for three generations. Mrs. Jewett bore two daughters and raised them with her husband in upstate New York. In her completed questionnaire from the Alumnae Association, Eleanore Myers Jewett selected reading as her top favored leisure activity and emphasized her preference for books over magazines by crossing out the latter. An active member of her community, Jewett served on both the Library Board and the Board of Education.

She wrote both children’s novels and poetry. Her work was published by Viking Press and appeared in magazines such The Woman’s World (“Before You Came,” March 1920) and St. Nicholas Magazine (“Binkie and Bing,” 1921). Her writings were well-researched and engaging for readers of all ages because of her delightful prose that wove together exciting tales and likeable characters. In a review of her novel Told on the King’s Highway entitled “Some History, and Lighter Fare, for Young Readers,” The New York Times declared, “These tales of the Middle Ages are retold with sympathy and affection. […] The author has emphasized the romantic quality and touched her retellings with gracious fancy.” Her highest award was a 1947 Newberry Honor for The Hidden Treasure of Glaston. By the time she died at the age of 76 on March 30th, 1967, she had written over 10 children’s books in addition to an assortment of published short stories and poems.

Her voice and vitality are present in her collection.  Her sketches, poems and daily entries in her scrapbooks give us a glimpse into her collegiate life and the history of the college. Please visit the Barnard Archives located in 23 Lehman Hall or check out the display on the first floor to learn more about this amazing woman and the legacy she has left Barnard nearly a century after graduating.

Written by Caitlin Hamrin ’12