Cal State Long Beach English Professor Awarded Pushcart Prize
2010-07-16 · By Editor
Patty Seyburn, an assistant professor of English at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), was awarded the coveted Pushcart Prize recently and will see her poem “The Case for Free Will” included in the anthology “The Pushcart Prize XXXV: Best of the Small Presses” (2011).
Every year, the Pushcart Prizes are awarded to short stories and poems published in literary magazines and then collected in an anthology. The Pushcart Press is devoted to writers, small presses and non-commercial publishing, and it has been recognized as among the most influential publishers in American history by Publishers Weekly.
“I’m thrilled because this is one of those things you believe might never happen in your life,” said Seyburn, whose winning poem originally debuted in the inaugural issue of CSU East Bay’s Arroyo Literary Review. “There are so many poems nominated from so many journals. It’s wonderful just to have a journal nominate your poem. But then to win is thrilling. I’m very happy.”
The publication of “The Case for Free Will” began via a friendship with CSU East Bay faculty member Susan Gubernat. “She told me that CSU East Bay was starting up a journal called the Arroyo Literary Review, and she asked me for a couple of poems for their inaugural issue,” Seyburn recalled. “It’s a lovely journal and I was happy to help them out. Interestingly, another journal out of Cal State Northridge also asked me for poems and also nominated me for a Pushcart. I’m liking the Cal State system!”
Seyburn feels the poem might have been chosen because it combines a deceptive transparency, humor and some attempt at profundity. “It’s a strange poem,” she said. “When I read this poem, there is humor and strange wit. I think it’s a lively poem. It jumps off the page.”
“The Case for Free Will” was created through her career-long interest in the topic. “I’m very taken with the idea that God gave humanity free will,” she said. “I have several poems that have free will in them. In the first collection I wrote, ‘Diasporadic,’ the final poem talks about free will and there is another in ‘Hilarity’ that is titled ‘Once More on Free Will.’”
A member of the CSULB English Department since 2006, Seyburn’s previous honors include winning the 2008 Green Rose Poetry Prize by New Issues Press for her third manuscript titled “Hilarity,” which was reviewed in 2009 by the New York Times.
She also published “Mechanical Cluster” (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and “Diasporadic” (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998), which won the 1997 Marianne Moore Poetry Prize and the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award for 2000.
Seyburn’s poems have appeared in The Paris Review, New England Review, Field, Slate, Crazyhorse, Cutbank, Quarterly West, Bellingham Review, Connecticut Review, Cimarron Review, Third Coast and Western Humanities Review. She is co-editor of POOL: a Journal of Poetry, based in Los Angeles.
Patty Seyburn has a B.S. and M.S. degree from Northwestern University, a M.A. from UC Irvine, and she earned her Ph.D. in 2003 from the University of Houston.