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The Blue & Gray Press | February 21, 2018

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Allison Seay Returns to Alma Mater as Professor

“There is nothing to beat a really small, beautiful, smart community,” said Allison Seay, the Arrington poet-in-residence, regarding her return to UMW after 10 years.

Seay graduated from the University of Mary Washington, then Mary Washington College, in 2002, with a degree in English. It was during her years at UMW that she began to form an interest in poetry, under the direction of the Arrington Distinguished Chair of Poetry Claudia Emerson.

She has since completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she continued to work following her graduation. Seay also taught at Greensboro College and Lynchburg College, before returning to Richmond. As poet-in-residence, she is teaching the advanced poetry class and the creative writing seminar in poetry.

The most recent recipient of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry, Seay’s collection To See the Queen will be published in April, 2013. This prize is awarded to a female poet who has not yet published her first book.

In addition to publication and a $1000 advance, Seay has the opportunity to travel to Umbertide, Italy to participate in an all-expenses paid residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center, housed in a fifteenth-century castle.

“A career in poetry is full of rejection,” said Seay, thankful for her recent success. Seay said she is “really lucky” to receive such an honor, as this was the first time she had sent the manuscript out.

Seay is excited to be back at UMW, teaching in place of Emerson while she is on sabbatical. Seay said that UMW is “more beautiful than I remember” and that she would welcome an opportunity to stay.

“Professor Seay shares a lot of cool stories about contemporary poets—many of whom she’s met and hung out with,” said senior Will Thompson. A member of Seay’s poetry seminar, Thompson also appreciates her “willingness to dig deep during workshop” and ability to “flesh out whatever’s under the surface of our poems.”

Seay will be reading a sampling of her work at this week’s Thursday poem series, Feb. 9 at 5pm in Combs 139; a reception will follow.