Lorain County Community College’s Distinguished Professor Bruce Weigl, an accomplished poet and author who has taught creative writing and poetry at LCCC since returning to his alma mater in 1998, has garnered the prestigious national Lannan Literary Foundation Award for Poetry.
Weigl has found his students at Lorain County Community College to be such an inspiration to him that he doesn’t know if he’ll ever retire. “It’s such an energizing feeling for me and I get so much inspiration from our students that it helps me be a much more active writer,” Weigl said. LCCC’s students inspire him because they have a different focus than students he has taught at four–year universities.
“So many of our students work and are paying their own way through college. They have real lives and are involved in the adult world. As a writing teacher that’s a real bonus because they have real things to write about,” Weigl said.
That inspired writing brought Weigl to the attention of the Lannan Foundation, which announced his award Wednesday, Nov. 8 and noted that he is the single recipient in this category and the only poet/writer from Ohio to win an award this year. The award comes with a $150,000 prize.
The Lannan Literary Awards and Fellowships were established in 1989 to honor both established and emerging writers whose work is of exceptional quality.The awards recognize writers who have made significant contributions to English–language literature.
“We are very proud of and congratulate Bruce Weigl,” said LCCC President Dr. Roy A. Church. “Our students and the community benefit through Bruce’s tremendous talent. His passion for teaching and poetry are exemplified inside and outside of the classroom. He is a remarkable person who has returned to his hometown community to make a difference in the lives of our students, and we are deeply grateful for his commitment here.”
Weigl’s affinity for LCCC began when he enrolled as a student following a year in the Army in Vietnam from December 1967 to December 1968. His decision to return to LCCC three decades later was due in large part to the start that LCCC provided to him.
“I owe a lot of my success to this institution. This is where I came after the Army. I was enabled and encouraged and supported by my professors and that made all the difference in the world for me.
“When I saw the opportunity to come back here I thought it was a great way to complete that circle and give something back to a place that gave me so much,” Weigl said.
Weigl taught previously at the University of Arkansas–Little Rock, Old Dominion University and Penn State University. He is a Lorain native who now lives in Oberlin.
He is the author of 12 collections of poetry. He has translated Vietnamese and Romanian poetry, edited or co–edited three collections of criticism, and his own poetry, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in such forums as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harpers, The American Poetry Review, The Harvard Review and many others. His poetry has been translated into Vietnamese, Spanish, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Serbian, Chinese, Dutch, German and French.
For his work he has been awarded the Pushcart Prize twice, an award from the Academy of American Poets, a Breadloaf and Yaddo Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant in poetry, The Cleveland Arts Prize and an award for “contributions to American Culture from the Vietnam Veterans of America.” In 2003 he chaired the judging panel for the National Book Award in Poetry.
This year he also started the North Coast Review, an online literary journal that is dedicated to publishing the works of students, faculty, staff and alumni of LCCC. The first issue can be found at www.lorainccc.edu/ncr.
“I grew up among working class people and these many years later here I am as the distinguished professor at the college where I started. I think I am a great example of how someone can come from modest beginnings and achieve something. This is the message I try to bring to my students every day,” Weigl said.