James Allen Hall, who is well known to Washington College’s students of poetry for his unabashed enthusiasm and supportive teaching, has been named the new director of the Rose O’ Neill Literary House. Hall, an associate professor of English, has served as interim director since June, and succeeds Jehanne Dubrow.
“I did not expect this. I hoped and dreamed. This is a dream job for me,” says Hall, who joined the faculty in 2013. “When I was offered the interim position I thought, well good, I have a chance to see how I like this and how it likes me. If I wasn’t the right person, I didn’t want the job, because there’s a lot that happens here and it has to be the right person. But I found that I love this place.”
In announcing the position, Dean Emily Chamlee-Wright said the College was seeking “a person with a distinguished record as a teacher and creative writer. We were looking for someone who possesses talent as an academic administrator. Most importantly, we were looking for someone who embodies the ethos of the Lit House as an interdisciplinary cultural center that serves the entire Washington College campus, and the local, regional, and national literary communities. James Allen Hall is, in short, the perfect fit, and I am thrilled that he has accepted this position.”
Hall’s first poetry collection Now You’re the Enemy (University of Arkansas Press 2008) won awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His book of lyric personal essays I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well will be published in early 2017.
Hall has earned fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and from the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers’ conferences. He has edited literary magazines including Gulf Coast, Blueline, and Cherry Tree: A National Journal @ Washington College, for which he now serves as the editor-in-chief as well as the nonfiction editor. His poems and personal essays have appeared widely, most recently in New England Review, A Public Space, American Poetry Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Story.
Hall will continue to teach one class per semester, and he wants to continue to make unique opportunities available to students through pre-orientation and the school year. For instance, this fall he arranged for students to travel with him to Newark, N.J., to attend the 30th Anniversary Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, the largest poetry event in North America, where students met and listened to over 50 nationally and internationally renowned poets.
He has also been instrumental in bringing some of those same writers, such as Mark Doty, Jericho Brown, and Claudia Rankine, to work with students and read at the Lit House as part of the Sophie Kerr Series.