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Distinguished Alumnus

Todd F. Davis

M.A. and Ph.D., English, 1991 and 1995

Todd DavisDr. Todd Davis is that rare writer whose poetry and prose beautifully weave together the natural, spiritual, and intellectual realms of human existence. While Davis notes that his parents cultivated his love of the mystery of God and appreciation for poetry from an early age, he cites a course he took at NIU, taught by the late Zen poet Lucien Stryk, as a “breakthrough” event that spurred his writing career.

Dr. Davis earned his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from NIU’s Department of English, where he won the Jenefer M. Giannasi Award for Excellence in Teaching College Freshman English. Since graduating, Dr. Davis has become an accomplished professor, as well as a highly regarded author, poet, and scholarly writer.

As a poet, Dr. Davis has been honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been included in more than thirty anthologies and more than 300 of his poems have appeared in such acclaimed journals and magazines as The American Poetry Review, The North American Review, Iowa Review, Indiana Review, Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, Orion, River Styx, Poetry Daily, Quarterly West, Green Mountains Review, Ecotone, Sou’wester, Verse Daily, and Poetry East.

He is the author of five books of poetry—In the Kingdom of the Ditch (Michigan State University Press, 2013); The Least of These (Michigan State University Press, 2010); Household of Water, Moon, and Snow: The Thoreau Poems (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010); Some Heaven (Michigan State University Press, 2007); and Ripe (Bottom Dog Press, 2002)—and has edited two anthologies, Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball (Michigan State University Press, 2012) and Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State University of New York Press, 2010).

Garrison Keillor has featured Davis’ poems on The Writer’s Almanac, and Poet Laureate Ted Kooser has selected his work to appear in his syndicated column American Life in Poetry. His poetry has been praised in reviews by the Chicago Tribune, The Bloomsbury Review, Arts & Letters, and West Branch, among others.

In addition to his creative work, Davis is the author or editor of six scholarly books, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade, or How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism (State University of New York Press, 2006) and Postmodern Humanism in Contemporary Literature and Culture: Reconciling the Void (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

For his teaching and his scholarly work, Davis has been honored with the Penn State Altoona Outstanding Achievement in Research & Creative Activity Award, an artist residency in the Institute for the Arts & Humanities at Penn State University, the Grace D. Long Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching at Penn State Altoona, and numerous Penn State Senior Research Grants.

A highly successful and widely celebrated author and poet, Dr. Davis has distinguished himself in his field and among his peers. The College is honored to have played a part in further cultivating the interests and talents of this acclaimed professor, scholar and writer.