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Arts & Letters Prizes honor former GCSU professor Susan Atefat-Peckham

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POSTED: March 7, 2008
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Arts & Letters Prizes honor former GCSU professor Susan Atefat-Peckham

The Ninth Annual Arts & Letters Prizes will include the presentation of the first Arts & Letters/Susan Atefat Prize in Creative Nonfiction to Julie Wan of Washington, D.C., and a presentation of the Arts & Letters Prize in Drama to winner Glenn Alterman of New York City.

The first event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, March 14 at Max Noah Recital Hall where Wan will read her prize-winning essay "Nocturne," a memoir about her family's struggles during the fall of Saigon.

This event also honors the memory of former Georgia College faculty member Susan Atefat-Peckham who came to Georgia College in 2002 to teach poetry. She became the first poetry editor of Arts & Letters and helped to bring several outstanding poets to campus.

While teaching as a Fulbright Scholar in 2004, she and her young son Cyrus were killed in a tragic car accident near Amman, Jordan. The prize was named in her memory, endowed by a gift from Susan's parents, Bahram and Fari Atefat. The new issue of Arts & Letters also features a previously unpublished poem by Atefat-Peckham.

"Susan touched many people's lives, despite her short time in our community, not only her students and colleagues, but also many people throughout the GCSU and Milledgeville community,” said Martin Lammon, GCSU Fuller E. Callaway/Flannery O’Connor Chair in Creative Writing. “Susan would visit local public schools and talk to students about poetry, and she organized with her students at Georgia College an annual Poetry Slam event, in which students posted poems all over campus."

Members of the Georgia College campus and others in Milledgeville who remember Atefat-Peckham are invited to this special event to honor her memory. Georgia College President Dr. Dorothy Leland, Atefat-Peckham’s son Darius, her parents and other special guests will attend the program.

"During her 33 years, Susan accomplished so much. She was not only an accomplished poet and writer, but also a fine artist and musician,” Lammon said. “She was truly a citizen of the world, and she is missed not only by family, friends, and colleagues, but many others whose lives she touched in so many different ways."

Later that Friday at 8 p.m., Alterman will be presented his Arts & Letters Prize in Drama, followed by a production of his one-act play "The Sealing of Ceil" in the Arts & Sciences Auditorium.

An audience discussion with the playwright, actors, director, and Arts & Letters drama editor David Muschell will follow the production.

This event is presented in partnership with the GCSU Theatre Program. General admission is $3 and student admission is $1. The play is recommended for mature audiences. An encore performance of the play will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15.

Prizewinners are selected from a national competition. Distinguished authors Jeannette Walls (Creative Nonfiction) and Michael Wright (Drama) were the final judges.

Each prize winner receives a $1,000 prize, publication in GCSU's national literary magazine Arts & Letters Journal of Contemporary Culture, and an expenses paid trip to Milledgeville to receive their prizes and participate in other programs featuring their award-winning works. Winners in the fiction and poetry categories were awarded their prizes last fall.

The new issue of Arts & Letters will be on sale at these events, featuring both the prizewinners' works.

For more information, contact Martin Lammon at (478) 445-3508 or

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For more information, contact Judy Bailey in University Communications at (478) 445-4477.