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Mills College English Department Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

Oakland, CA–May 25, 2009. The Mills College English Department welcomes two new faculty members whose creative writing perspectives will enrich the program's long history of writers with powerful voices. Starting August 2009, Patricia Powell joins the faculty as an associate professor of English, and Faith Adiele as a distinguished visiting writer.

"Patricia Powell is the writer we have been waiting for—the search committee found her writing breathless, her commitment to teaching outstanding, and her general spirit inspiring," said Elmaz Abinader, Mills College professor of English. "Faith Adiele's writing as well as her personal journey speaks to many of Mills' writers, as developing authors and in their own evolutions."

Powell received a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA from Brown University in Creative Writing. She has received the Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Writers' Award and was a finalist among Granta's Best of Young American Novelists in 1993.

Powell has published four novels: The Fullness of Everything (Peepal Tree Press, 2009), A Small Gathering of Bones (Beacon Press, 2003), Me Dying Trial (Beacon Press, 2003), and The Pagoda (Alfred Knopf, 1998).

In an interview published in MIT Tech Talk, Powell said she began writing soon after she emigrated from Jamaica and while an undergraduate at Wellesley College, "It was only in my creative writing classes that I felt truly alive," she said. "I was desperately missing my family and friends and the country and the people and the way we lived. I was lonely. I didn't make friends easily. I didn't feel quite at home in the world. But I felt very at home while writing."

For young writers, Powell recommends that they take risks and write about things that make them uncomfortable. "If your critics say you're doing an awful job writing about what you don't know, tell them thanks and then start again, dig a little deeper," she said.

Powell first came to Mills College in 2007 when she was a visiting writer. She is currently a visiting writer at Stanford University, and has taught at several other institutions, including Pomona College, MIT, and Harvard University. She is particularly interested in teaching African American literature, Caribbean women writers, and gay literature.

Adiele's appointment is from 2009–2011. She has a BA in Southeast Asian Studies from Harvard University, an MA from Lesley College in Creative Writing, and MFAs from the University of Iowa in both Fiction (2001) and Nonfiction (2002).

Her published works include Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004), which received the PEN Beyond Margins Award for Best Memoir of 2004; The Student Body (co-written under the penname Jane Harvard and published by Random House); and numerous essays in O, Essence, Pink, Ms., and Tricycle magazines.

Her personal story was the subject of My Journey Home, a 2002 PBS documentary film about growing up with a Nordic American single mother and her travels to Nigeria as an adult to find her father and siblings.

She has taught at the University of Pittsburgh and National University in Los Angeles, and numerous writers' workshops, including the Chautauqua Writers Festival, the Geneva Writers Conference, Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Summer Workshops for Writers of Color, and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

Adiele was active in community and campus organizations at Radcliffe College that supported minority and international students, including serving as the coordinator of a program to enhance the education of women and students of color. While at Mills, she is interested in teaching creative nonfiction and young adult/children's literature.

Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity to approximately 950 undergraduate women and 500 graduate women and men. Since 2000, applications to Mills College have more than doubled. The College is named one of the top colleges in the West by U.S. News & World Report, one of the Best 368 Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks 75th among America's best colleges by Forbes.com. Visit us at www.mills.edu.

 

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Last Updated: 6/1/09