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Four professors get works published

Four Longwood University English and creative writing professors have had their writing works published in recent months.

Dr. Craig Challender, professor of modern American literature, has had a collection of poetry published, while Dr. Robert “Brett” Hursey, professor of creative writing, has had more than 20 10-minute plays produced.

Mary
Carroll-Hackett

Dr. Steven Faulkner

Dr. Brett
Hursey

Dr. Craig
Challender

Dr. Steven Faulkner, associate professor of creative writing, had his memoir, “Bitterroot,” published late last summer, and Mary Carroll-Hackett, associate professor of creative writing, had two books of poems — “A Little Blood, A Little Rain” and “Trailer Park Oracle” -— published.

Challender, who has taught at Longwood for 34 years, had his poetry collection entitled “Capable Ways” published in the last two months.

“Capable Ways,” said Challender, is his fourth collection of poems. Challender said this collection deals a lot with aging, mortality and memory.

“Most poets think about death a lot. I’ve been thinking about mortality since I was a young man,” Challender said. “I also dabble quite a bit in myth, so I have a couple of poems devoted to Mnemosyne, the Mother of the Muses and the Goddess of Memory.”

Challender’s book contains around 25 poems, he said, primarily in free verse with some slant and interior rhyme.

Three of the poems were dedicated to his daughters — one for each of them — which Challender said he has done in his last two books.

“You can (go back) and trace their growing up or the speaker’s relationship to them or his thoughts about them as they grow up,” Challender said.

In addition to being a professor at Longwood, Challender directs the Author’s Series, a reading series that brings in 4-5 writers a year to read their works in poetry, fiction and other genres. Challender will be reading some of his works during a reading this month.

Hursey has had more than 20 plays produced across the country and abroad. Some of his works include a full-length collection of plays called “Lady Parts,” “Pumps,” “Scrambled,” “Penalty Kicks,” “Tough Cookies” and “Besties.”

“Brett Hursey’s comedies have appeared in over 250 theaters across the country, including venues in Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hollywood as well as internationally in England, Belgium, Luxembourg, Romania, Australia, South Korea and Canada. He also had 50 off and off-off Broadway productions in Manhattan,” according to his biography.

At Hursey’s reading in September, parts of “Penalty Kicks” and “Besties,” which were recently written, Hursey said, were performed, including two of his recently-produced works “Pumps” and “Tough Cookies.”

Faulkner’s memoir, “Bitterroot,” came out late last summer. “Bitterroot,” according to Faulkner, interweaves a father-son journey along the Oregon Trail and parts of the Lewis and Clark Trail with the history of the region and the stories of missionary Pierre-Jean De Smet. The memoir follows Faulkner and his son as they drove, hiked, canoed and mountain biked their way along the trails while telling the stories of the region.

“(The memoir is of) a father-son journey through the wild west, weaving together our experience of the landscape and the history of the region,” Faulkner summed up.

The book is the second of its kind Faulkner has written. His first book documented a journey he took with another one of his sons on a 1,000-mile canoe trip tracing the path explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet took in 1673. That book, he said, was turned into a movie.

Faulkner said he has always loved history and the experience of Native Americans in the west.

“I’m thrilled to get it published,” Faulkner said. “It’s very rewarding to have an editor also pleased with the book and willing to publish it.”

The book has been nominated for a Library of Virginia Non-Fiction Book of the Year award.

Faulkner hopes his book will spark interest in the hearts of those who read it.

“The wilderness is still there for those who will investigate it. I think I read somewhere that every year fewer and fewer young people go into the national parks. I know, for my sons, it was a transforming experience to do that,” Faulkner said. “I also think in confused times it’s important for us to understand our history.”

Carroll-Hackett has had two books of poems — “A Little Blood, A Little Rain” and “Trailer Park Oracle” from FutureCycle Press — published since 2015.

Carroll-Hackett said she has been interested in poetry and telling stories since a young age, remembering she would stand up in her home and tell stories to her family since she was 2 and 3 years old, winning her first poetry contest when she was 11.

Carroll-Hackett said her love of poetry stems from her parents — especially her mother — loving poetry, always reciting poetry around the house and often by heart.

Much of Carroll-Hackett’s work talks about where she came from.

“I write where I come from. I write the people I come from. I write people who are often people who are rendered invisible by society,” Carroll-Hackett said. “It took me 15 years to finish my bachelor’s degree, and I tended bars and worked in factories and cleaned hotel rooms, so I come from those people.”

Carroll-Hackett said she also explores questions of faith and being a female, especially a working-class female.

“I tell my students, ‘Writers don’t write because they have answers,’” Carroll-Hackett said. “‘They write because they have questions.’”

Carroll-Hackett said writing, to her, is more than something she simply enjoys.

“For me, writing is one of those things you do to survive during the day,” said Carroll-Hackett. “It’s how you celebrate the great things, how you process the difficult things and how you explore the things you don’t understand.”

Carroll-Hackett performed a reading of prose poems as part of the Author’s Series in October.