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The Independent

English instructor Amanda Goldblatt selected for NEA fellowship

Sarahy Lopez, Staff writer

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NEIU’s English instructor Amanda Goldblatt was selected out of  36 recipients to be awarded a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) of $25,000.

The 2018 Creative Writing Fellowship encourages the production of new work and allows writers the time and means to write.

The Arts Endowment has awarded more than 3,400 creative writing fellowships worth $46 million since 1967, resulting in many of the most acclaimed novels of contemporary literature such as Jeffrey Eugenides’s “Middlesex,” Oscar Hijuelos’s “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love,” Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” William Kennedy’s “Ironweed” and Bobbie Ann Mason’s “In Country.”

Ninety-six out of the 166 American recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA Literature Fellows, according to the NEA’s website.

The application process, which is open nationally, includes a proposal and description of a project or novel that the writer is working on.

Goldblatt teaches courses such as Introduction to Creative Writing, Elements of Style for Creative Writers and Creative Writing: Fiction I & II at NEIU. Her work and contributions can be found on The Southern Review, the Fanzine, Tammy, Hobart and NOON.

She received a call from Mohamed Sheriff, the literature specialist and grants manager from the NEA, and was told that she was selected as the award recipient.

“I was standing there in disbelief, just on the sidewalk,” Goldblatt said. “I thanked him and got off the phone and went swimming, but I was smiling so hard that every time I went to get a breath, I was getting water in my mouth.”

“Being a writer is really about taking on a lot of rejection,” she said. “There’s so much rejection that when you get a chance to be validated, it feels like a really rare thing.”

“[The fellowship] was specifically awarded for a project that is an in-progress novel, something that I’ve been working on for the last year and a half,” Goldblatt said.

The novel is about women, swimming, violence, and gentrification based on the Northwest side of Chicago.

“It’s something that’s very observation based. I’ve been doing a lot of fieldwork and notetaking,” Goldblatt said. “Being awarded this fellowship has snapped me back into a sharper focus on this project.”

Goldblatt will be taking off the summer from teaching classes to work on her novel and plans to take Spanish classes.

“I want to be fluent in Spanish,” she said, “I find it embarrassing that I’m not because I live in Logan Square. I want to have conversations. Many of the people I live next to, use city resources with, on transit, in the library, at the grocery store, half of the conversations are in Spanish.”

“As a writer, I want to be able to eavesdrop, but as a community member, I want to be able to speak and communicate and to listen,” Goldblatt said. “My own work will be enriched by that, and my life will be better if I’m able to connect to a larger amount of people daily.”

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