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English Instructor John Bradley awarded prestigious Cleveland State poetry prize

August 31, 2010

Not only does NIU English instructor John Bradley have a new collection of poetry, but he also has another award to go along with it.

John Bradley

John Bradley

The Cleveland State University Poetry Center has given its 2009 open competition award to Bradley for his latest book, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.”

“It’s an honor to have been selected,” Bradley said.

His was among 750 manuscripts submitted to the four-judge committee at Cleveland State University Poetry Center, said Krysia Orlowski, a publicist for the center. Two awards were given. Committee members based their decision on originality and readability.

“John Bradley’s manuscript really stood out to committee members,” Orlowski said. “They based their decision on his unique sensibility and keen sense of the prose poem form.”

Poets published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center have gone on to win the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prizes, Orlowski added.

You Don't Know What You Don't KnowPoem titles in Bradley’s new book include “Parable of the Hair Chair,” “You Too Can Apologize to the Moon” and “Chimney Sleep.”

Bradley, who won the 2008 Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction award, has been teaching first-year composition and a variety of other courses at NIU since 1992. He often teaches English courses in the CHANCE program.

Bradley’s poetry has gained national recognition in the past as well. His 1989 book of poetry titled, “Love-In-Idleness,” won the Washington Prize, and he was a 2005 recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in poetry.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry, especially the prose poem style,” he said.

His interest in poetry reaches back to 1972, when he attended his first poetry class in a Minneapolis bookstore. He liked what he read, swallowed his fears, and entered his first workshop. Since then, he as written four full-length books and edited three anthologies.

“Writing poetry is something I do for my own enjoyment,” Bradley said.  “I could never support myself on it. You have to be famous like Rita Dove or Billy Collins to make a living from it.”

Bradley also is the editor of a collection of reflections on the nuclear age, “Atomic Ghost: Poets Respond to the Nuclear Age,” and a similarly themed collection of essays, “Learning to Glow: A Nuclear Reader.”

by Gerard Dziuba