Ohio Wesleyan University English Professor Earns Writing Award

David Caplan, Ph.D., Receives Virginia Quarterly Review’s Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry
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David Caplan

David Caplan

DELAWARE, Ohio – David Caplan, Ph.D.,associate professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University, has been awarded the spring 2012 Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry by the Virginia Quarterly Review. The award recognizes “the best writing to appear in our pages each year,” according to the magazine, itself widely regarded as one of America’s most distinguished literary journals.

Caplan, a two-time Fulbright Scholarship recipient, earned the new award for a work of poetry titled “Observances.” He joined the Ohio Wesleyan faculty in 2000 and also serves as the University’s associate director of creative writing.

He is in good company with the Virginia Quarterly Review award, announced Dec. 18. The magazine’s 2012 Emily Clark Balch Prize for Fiction was awarded to bestselling authorJoyce Carol Oates. Each prize includes a monetary award of $1,000.

In an accompanying introduction to Caplan’s “Observances” Harvard University English professor Stephen Burt writes:

“These remarkable poems blend spiritual unease with religious confidence, an investigator’s fascinated spirit with a sense that the poet has almost – but not quite – come home. David Caplan reacts to what he saw, to what he heard, and to what he learned when he visited Tiferes Bachurim, a yeshiva [residential institution devoted to Jewish learning] in Morristown, New Jersey. …

“Other poets, such as John Hollander and Allen Grossman, have made American poems from Jewish interpretive traditions; Caplan stands out in that he makes poems about the present-day people who try to live by those traditions – his project belongs to American Jewish poetry, but shares the goals of American “ethnic” fiction, with its border-crossing, inside-outsider narrator, its ambassadorial reports. Caplan’s lines try to bring into their pace and their phrasing, their details given and withheld, a way of life that he shares in part, and stands outside in part, and has brought into his circumspect and introspective American English.”

At Ohio Wesleyan, Caplan specializes in 20th and 21st century American literature. His scholarly interests include verse form and contemporary poetry. His latest book, “In the World He Created According to His Will,” is a collection of poetry reflecting the suffering history imposes on individual experiences in the world and the sacredness that underpins them.

Caplan also is the author of “Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form” and “Poetic Form: An Introduction.” He currently is working on his fourth book, “Rhyme’s Challenge,” under contract to Oxford University Press. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hobart College, Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida, and additional Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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