Roripaugh wins award for book of poetry

Roripaugh wins award for book of poetry
The University of South Dakota has announced that Lee Ann Roripaugh, associate professor of English, is the winner of the 2004 Book Award in Poetry/Prose from the Association for Asian American Studies for her latest volume of poetry, Year of the Snake. The award was presented at the annual meeting of The Association for Asian American Studies in Atlanta, GA, on March 26.

Drawing heavily from both her recent obsessions and her early experiences, Roripaugh crafted the clever juxtapositions and thematic elements that would eventually comprise Year of the Snake. The idea of transformation became a prevalent theme throughout her work and Roripaugh said that images of nature from her childhood figured heavily in many poems.

"At the time that I wrote the book, I was very much drawn to traditional Japanese myths and fairy tales and I'd been doing a lot of research and reading in this area. I was also fascinated by natural transformations in nature, such as insects and snakes shedding their shells and skins throughout various life cycles and I was thinking a lot about my mother's garden at the home where I grew up in Wyoming. All of these points of inspiration eventually started to come together as ways to explore the theme of transformation in terms of both personal and cultural identity," Roripaugh said.

Roripaugh credits her drive and aptitude for creative writing to her father, who is a writer and a retired professor of English.

She mentioned that one of her most vivid early memories was falling asleep to the sound of her father pounding away on his manual typewriter in the next room late into the night. Growing up in a house full of books and writing instilled in her a love of literature and provided a safe environment for her to explore her own means of expression from an early age.

The poet also supplied some simple, straightforward advice for aspiring writers hoping to make a splash in the field. "Work hard. Be humble before your art. Read as much as you can. Learn from the other arts, and from the world around you. Be doggedly persistent," Roripaugh said.

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