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Visiting Writer-In-Residence Verlyn Klinkenborg Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Verlyn Klinkenborg, visiting writer-in-residence at Pomona College, author and columnist for the New York Times, has received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for $39,000. The prestigious fellowships are awarded to those who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.

What distinguishes the Guggenheim Fellowship program is the diversity of fellows selected in 78 different fields, from the natural sciences to the creative arts. Past fellows include scores of Nobel, Pulitzer, and other prize-winners. These include: Ansel Adams, W. H. Auden, Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, Langston Hughes, Henry Kissinger, Vladimir Nabokov, Isamu Noguchi, Linus Pauling, Philip Roth, Paul Samuelson, Wendy Wasserstein, Derek Walcott, James Watson, and Eudora Welty.

Klinkenborg will use the funding to work on his forthcoming book, The Mermaids of Lapland, about William Cobbett (1763-1835). Nearly forgotten today, Cobbett was considered “unquestionably the most powerful political writer of the present day” and “one of the best writers in the language,” by essayist William Hazlitt. The evaluation was echoed by many others. “Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register, his newspaper, defined the opposition during one of the most tyrannical epochs in modern British history,” explains Klinkenborg. “But he was also a farmer, an agricultural innovator, and a apostle of all things rural.”

In The Mermaids of Lapland, whose title is from a phrase written by Cobbett, Klinkenborg hopes to capture Cobbett’s radicalism and reforming instinct to improve the lives of small farmers and rural laborers—and reconceive it as something that reaches across time.

Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times and is known for his essays on rural life, a regular feature in the newspaper. His previous books include Timothy; Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile (2006), The Last Fine Time (2004), and Making Hay (1997). He has also written for The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, National Geographic, Mother Jones, and the New York Times Magazine, among others.

A Pomona College graduate, Class of 1974, Klinkenborg served as the College’s spring 2004-05 Moseley Fellow and is a visiting writer-in-residence for 2006-07. He comes from a family of Iowa farmers and normally resides on a small farm in upstate New York.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.