UNCW Creative Writing Professor in the Running for 2015 National Book Award

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

UNCW creative writing professor Michael White is among the writers selected for the 2015 National Book Awards longlist for Nonfiction, The New Yorker announced today.

Publishers submitted 494 books for the 2015 National Book Awards for Nonfiction. Five judges selected what they deem to be the best books of the year. White’s book, Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir (Persea Books), is one of 10 books nominated in the nonfiction category. Finalists will be announced on Oct. 14.

“It is a high honor,” said White, who also chairs the creative writing department. “The book has done extremely well, but to be honest, the greatest thrill in this book was the writing. I’ve never felt so much joy pursuing any writing project.”

According to the publisher’s release, the memoir is “part travelogue, part soul-searching investigation into romantic love and intimate discourse on art.” Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir is a record of White’s travels through Europe and the U.S. to view the paintings of Johannes Vermeer. It is White’s first work of prose and, he says, the book came about completely by chance.

“I was reeling from a bad divorce and on impulse one weekend I traveled to Amsterdam. Walking through the galleries on my way to the Rembrandts, I decided to check out a smaller gallery containing four Vermeers,” he said. “I felt an immediate spell come over me, and knew within seconds I would write a book about them. I spent much of the next year traveling the world, standing for hours in museums, taking notes and having the time of my life.”

White is the author of four collections of poetry: The Island; Palma Cathedral, winner of the Colorado Prize; Re-entry, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize, and Vermeer in Hell, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award. His poems and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Western Humanities Review, Best American Poetry, and many other magazines and anthologies.