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October 18
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]


Martin Pousson’s writings, including his first novel, “No Place, Louisiana,” and his poetry collection, “Sugar,” have been compared to acclaimed writers Dorothy Allison, Frank McCourt and Carson McCullers. They have also caught the attention of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Pousson, associate professor of English at California State University, Northridge, has been awarded the NEA’s 2014 Creative Writing Fellowship in Prose. The honor, which includes a $25,000 grant through the federal government’s Art Works program, is for a collection of interlocking short stories that chronicle the sexual coming of age of a young mixed-raced man in the bayous of Louisiana.

English professor Martin Pousson has been awarded the NEA’s 2014 Creative Writing Fellowship in Prose. (CSUN/Lee Choo)

English professor Martin Pousson has been awarded the NEA’s 2014 Creative Writing Fellowship in Prose. (CSUN/Lee Choo)

“The greatest part of the fellowship is not the money, it’s the endorsement of the NEA,” Pousson said. “I’ve been working for a couple of years on a new set of stories, which has been a challenge while teaching full time. I finally have the stories in an arrangement that looks more like a full book. I was thrilled to learn that the NEA sees it that way as well. And even better, so many of my heroes have been recognized by the NEA in the past, including artists Tim Miller and Robert Mapplethorpe and writers Denis Johnson, Jennifer Egan and Michael Cunningham.

“I am really grateful that the NEA still funds literature fellowships,” he said. “It only grants a tiny number each year, and I am honored to receive one of them. Humans are narrative creatures at heart, so it’s great that a federal grant still values story telling. Narrative art intertwines with culture. It can’t be removed to a higher plane or examined from afar. We don’t often think of art and utility together, but story telling enacts both — it reveals people to each other and charges them to think.”

In her email informing Pousson of the award, NEA Acting Literature Director Amy Stolls wrote: “Literature Fellowships continue to be the only NEA grants to individuals open to direct applications, and we are delighted to include you and your work in this proud history. It is our hope that the award is as much encouragement and validation as it is monetary support.”

Elizabeth Say, dean of CSUN’s College of Humanities, said she was proud to count Pousson among the members of her college’s faculty.

“Not only is Professor Pousson a great writer, he is a beloved teacher and mentor, and an excellent citizen of this university,” Say said.

Pousson admitted he missed the initial call from the NEA notifying him of the honor. It had been a grueling 12-hour day that included teaching four classes and meetings with students that took longer than expected. He had plans that evening to celebrate with a former student, Karlee Johnson, who had just won a short story award from Glimmer Train Press, so he decided to ignore the voice mail messages sitting on his cell phone. When he finally checked his messages, he was surprised to discover that one was from Stolls, asking him to call her.

“I had a very restless night,” Pousson said. “When I called in the morning, she delivered the news in a lovely, personal way. Yet even though I could hear her voice, it still seemed like I was not yet awake.

“I had applied as a lark and had scrambled to get my submission in on time,” he said. “That was nearly a year ago, so I put the application out of my mind. I figured nothing was going to happen and moved on. The call was a real surprise.”

The NEA grant will support his latest venture, “Black Sheep Boy,” a collection of short stories that fall into the “fabulism” school of writing. He plans to use the friction that arises between dominant and subordinate cultures, as well as between mainstream realism and fables, to tell the stories of a young homosexual boy in Cajun Louisiana for whom the American dream has gone wrong. In particular, Pousson plans to tap into the ancient myths of loup-garoux, of werewolves, that dominated his childhood in the bayous of Acadiana, La. His protagonist is a half-Cajun, half-Creole boy who tries to bleach his skin and drop his accent in order to rise above the bayou culture that produced him.

“It started as an effort to follow up my first novel but with short stories,” he said. “I initially envisioned the book as an exploration of a phenomenon in the bayous where there are extraordinarily high incidents of both cancer and mental illness, an area of Louisiana that some people call cancer gulch. But as I started writing, the stories shifted to the story of the ‘Black Sheep Boy’ coming of age sexually in a culture that is decaying. The language of his grandparents is dying. People are going mad. There is a sense of loss. And somehow out of that loss, one may get a soul.”

Pousson said writing his new book has been slow, what with the demands of his teaching schedule, but he expects the pace to pick up soon. He’ll be teaching one less class next semester and has applied for a sabbatical next fall so he can finish “Black Sheep Boy.”

“That’s why this grant is so encouraging,” he said. “It gives me hope that I can take the time to really pull the book together and center it in a new way.”

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HIGHER EDUCATION LINKS
LOCAL COLLEGE HEADLINES
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in response to President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has declared Oct. 16-20 "DACA Advocacy Week."
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
COC and the Hart District will host the 2017 College & Career Fair in the college’s Honor Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, opens Fantômas: Revenge of the Image at Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China, on Oct. 19.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
California State University, Northridge will make history on Thursday, Oct. 26, by becoming the first California State University with a Sustainability Center.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
Raising a child is a demanding job for any parent, especially when supportive resources seem to be elusive or nonexistent.
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Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in response to President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has declared Oct. 16-20 "DACA Advocacy Week."
California Community Colleges Ramp Up DACA Advocacy
COC and the Hart District will host the 2017 College & Career Fair in the college’s Honor Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Oct. 21: 2017 College and Career Fair at COC
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery will showcase the work of Los Angeles-based painter Sheldon Figoten in a one-person exhibition of new paintings, “Light Fields,” opening Saturday, Oct. 28.
Oct. 28: Sheldon Figoten ‘Light Fields’ at COC Art Gallery
The Santa Clarita Artists Association held its 28th Annual Art Classic fine arts competition at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall in Newhall on October 14.
Santa Clarita Artists Association Names Winners in 2017 Art Classic
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's 2017 Medal of Valor Awards were held Tuesday in Los Angeles, and SCV Sheriff's Station Deputy Dmitry Barkon was recognized for his bravery and heroic actions.
SCV Sheriff’s Deputy Dmitry Barkon Earns Medal of Valor
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, opens Fantômas: Revenge of the Image at Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China, on Oct. 19.
Oct. 19: CalArts’ Fantomas: Revenge of the Image Premieres in China
The CSUN women's golf team fired rounds of 306-309 and is in fourth place, just eight shots off the pace at the Pat Lesser Harbottle Seattle University Invitational at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Tacoma, WA.
CSUN Just Eight Shots Off Pace At Washington Invitational
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Recreation, Community Services, Arts and Open Spaces Director Rick Gould announces retirement. Plus, the Board of Supervisors approve mental health care improvements. Check out these stories and more tonight on SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Tuesday, October 17, 2017
The Advanced Technology Presentation about "Careers in the Making...Design, Engineering, Fabrication and More..." in celebration of National Manufacturing Day was a huge success.
SCV Students Gain Knowledge, Advice at National Manufacturing Day
A local company is expanding its footprint in the Santa Clarita Valley to accommodate business growth and another is relocating a division of its company from Sylmar.
Accurate Freight Systems Expands, Leases Space at IAC Commerce Center
The Domestic Violence Center (DVC) of Santa Clarita Valley is accepting applications for Adopt-a-Family 2017.
DVC of SCV Currently Accepting Adopt-a-Family 2017 Applications
Major Impact Theater, founded by Jill Garson and Shawnda Davis in 2014, is a non-profit theater group that specially adapts plays for performance by adults with disabilities in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Nov. 4: Major Impact Theater Presents Blunderland
California State University, Northridge will make history on Thursday, Oct. 26, by becoming the first California State University with a Sustainability Center.
Oct. 26: CSUN to Open Sustainability Center
Registration for the Purple Walk of Strength is now open.
Oct. 21: Purple Walk of Strength to Benefit Domestic Violence Center
Raising a child is a demanding job for any parent, especially when supportive resources seem to be elusive or nonexistent.
Oct. 22: CSUN Hosts Special Needs Resource Fair
College of the Canyons dominated its match vs. Bakersfield College from start to finish on Friday night, resulting in a 5-1 victory over the Renegades for the Cougars' first conference win of the season.
COC Gets First Conference Win of Season Against Bakersfield College
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Following a two-week layoff, College of the Canyons cross country was back in competition on Saturday, running with a mix of community college and Division I programs at the Sixth Annual UC Riverside Highlander Invitational.
COC Cross Country Back in Competition After Two Week Layoff
The race to qualify for the Big West Conference Men's Soccer Tournament continues for CSUN this week with a home match against UC Riverside Wednesday night before the Matadors head to UC Irvine Saturday.
Oct. 18: CSUN Faces Off Against UC Riverside
After 16 years as director of Parks, Recreation and Community Service for the city of Santa Clarita, Rick Gould announced Monday he's retiring in mid-December.
Rick Gould Retires as City’s Parks & Recreation Chief
High school seniors whose dream is to make a difference in the world by majoring in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) are invited to apply for Edison International’s $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program.
STEM Students Encouraged to Apply for Edison Scholars Program
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Resources, Outreach Available to SCV Victims of Elder Abuse
Despite rallying from an early 2-0 deficit, College of the Canyons dropped a 4-2 decision to visiting Victor Valley College on Friday.
Canyons Rally Not Enough To Hold Off Victor Valley College
The College of the Canyons baseball program and Playa Vista Orioles youth baseball organization will host a free instructional clinic for players ages 11-14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at Cougar Field.
Oct. 21: Youth Baseball Clinic at COC
Sacramento – In an effort to curb the fraudulent use of Disabled Person Parking Placards, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has launched a statewide public awareness campaign to educate Californians about the proper use of disabled parking placards and the consequences of misusing one.
DMV Launches Statewide Campaign on Use of Disabled Parking Placards
A California State University, Northridge program that provides support to undergraduate students from underrepresented communities to pursue graduate degrees in the mathematical sciences has been named a 2017 Example of Excelencia in Education.
CSUN Math Program Lauded 2017 Example of Excelencia in Education
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Nov. 1: RE/MAX Blood Drive to Benefit CHLA
Princess Cruises has officially announced its third annual Culinary Cruise Series, featuring famed Miami-based chefs Brad Kilgore and Scott Linquist.
Princess Cruises Will Feature Two Acclaimed Chefs in Culinary Cruise Series
1837 - Trapper Peter LaBeck killed by grizzly bear at El Tejon [story]
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SCV NewsBreak for Monday, October 16, 2017
The Newhall School District's next Regular Board Meeting is Tuesday, October 17 at 6:15 p.m., and consideration of Newhall Family Theater approvals are on the agenda.
Oct. 17: Newhall School District Considers Newhall Family Theater OK
Master’s and Westmont College needed more than 90 minutes again Saturday to settle a Golden State Athletic Conference showdown in Santa Barbara.
Master’s Men Soccer Players Fall to Westmont in OT
Leaders from the CLWA and NCWC will meet in October, November and December to discuss their merger, which creates the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency as of Jan. 1.
Next Step: Water Agency Officials to Share Merger Details
Master’s women soccer players and coaches alike were adamant after Saturday’s top-10 matchup that Westmont’s 5-2 win wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the score suggests.
Westmont Tops Master’s Women’s Soccer 5-2
Although Friday the 13th is a day generally associated with bad luck, CalArts turned the superstition on its ear as the community celebrated the inauguration of its fourth president, Ravi S. Rajan.
CalArts Inaugurates Ravi S. Rajan as Fourth President