Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
David Bottoms, the Amos Distinguished Chair in English Letters, and Doris Derby, director of African-American Student Services and Programs, have each been awarded the Governor’s Award in the Humanities.
Bottoms and Derby were two of 12 individuals and organizations recognized at the 26th Governor’s Awards in the Humanities luncheon on Oct. 6. Recipients of the Governor’s Award are nominated by the public, reviewed by a committee of the Georgia Humanities Council board and approved by the governor.
“The work of these individuals and organizations serve as models for what can be accomplished in the humanities in communities throughout our state,” said Jamil S. Zainaldin, president of the Georgia Humanities Council.
Bottoms' first book, "Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump," was chosen by Robert Penn Warren as winner of the 1979 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. His poems have appeared widely in magazines such as The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper's, Poetry and The Paris Review, as well as in sixty anthologies and textbooks. He is the author of seven other books of poetry, two novels and a book of essays and interviews. His most recent book of poems, “We Almost Disappear,” has just been released. Among his other awards are both the Frederick Bock Prize and the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine, an Ingram Merrill Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has served as the Richard Hugo Poet-in-Residence at the University of Montana, the Ferrol Sams Distinguished Writer at Mercer University and the Chaffee Visiting Poet-in-Residence at Johns Hopkins University. He is Poet Laureate of Georgia.
Derby is being honored for documenting and preserving images and stories which enable current and future generations to learn about the Civil Rights Movement and social change in the Deep South.
A nationally recognized photographer, Derby was active with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in Albany, Ga., and in Mississippi. Art historians and archivists have recognized the value of her photographs as illustrations of the ideals of freedom and democracy through their depiction of citizens surviving and striving to bear physical and spiritual truth in the midst of difficult and changing times. Documentary filmmakers, exhibit designers and other developers of public programs have incorporated these images into their presentations. She co-founded the Free Southern Theater, which used workshops and performances to teach through drama. She later established the Office of African-American Student Services and Programs at GSU, where she has motivated thousands of students to prepare themselves for excellence by working in their communities while pursuing higher education.
Oct. 6, 2011