Thomas ChairGAMBIER, Ohio (January 19, 2006) Kenyon students have the good fortune to hone their skills this semester in advanced fiction writing and creative nonfiction workshops taught by Courtney Angela Brkic, the 2006 Thomas Chair of Creative Writing. Brkic is the internationally acclaimed author of fictional and non-fiction works. Stillness and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), was published to critical praise in 2003. A memoir, The Stone Fields: An Epitaph for the Living (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), describes her experience with the war victims in Srebrenica, Bosnia, and the history of her Croatian family during World War Two.
A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Brkic (pronounced BUR-kich) traveled during the 1990s to the former Yugoslavia, from which her father had fled years before. There, for six years, she studied and worked as a forensic archaeologist in Bosnia-Herzogovina and as a translator in Croatia. In 1996 she went to eastern Bosnia as part of a Physicians for Human Rights forensic team. She spent a month helping to exhume and identify the bodies of thousands of men and boys who were massacred by Serb forces the year before. She also worked for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. A Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Zagreb supported her research on women in Croatia's war-affected population.
Following Brkic's return to the United States in 1999, she earned a master of fine arts degree in writing from New York University. Her work has appeared in a number of journals, including Zoetrope, The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Indiana Review, Third Coast, The Atlanta Review, The South Carolina Review, and Folio. Her translations of Croatian Expressionist poet A.B. Simic have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation. She is the recipient of a New York Times Fellowship. For Stillness and Other Stories, her first book, she won a Whiting Writers' Award.
The Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing brings internationally-recognized poets and fiction writers to Kenyon for one semester each academic year to teach creative writing workshops and literature courses in the English department. Some recent occupants of the Thomas Chair include fiction writer and poet Fanny Howe, novelists Barry Unsworth and Claire Messud, and poets Alan Shapiro and John Kinsella. The permanent fall-semester occupant of the chair is Lewis Hyde.