In Praise of Maxine Clair

After many years of teaching and service here at GW, Maxine Clair will be retiring. The department’s recommendation that she be awarded emerita status in honor of her achievements has been accepted. We are so very proud of Maxine … and we would say that we will miss her, but we are confident that we will be seeing a lot of her in the years ahead. She is a permanent member of our community.

Here is the official accolade I put together for Maxine Clair. President Knapp will read it at the luncheon in her honor later this month.

A native of Kansas, Professor Maxine Clair has been teaching at the George Washington University since 1989, and has been tenured in the English Department since 1996.

Professor Clair did not begin life as a writer, but had a successful career as chief medical technologist at the Children’s Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She attributes her life change to a George Washington University Community workshop sponsored by the Jenny McKean Moore Fund for Writers. Her instructor, the poet Carol Muskie, recognized her gifts and encouraged her writing. Professor Clair went on then to complete a Masters in Fine Arts at American University.

Professor Clair is well known for her poetry, short stories, and novel. She is the author of Rattlebone, a collection of short stories about the African-American community in Kansas City in the 1950s. The volume won the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for fiction. She has also published a collection of poems, Coping With Gravity. Her lyrical novel October Suite returns to the heroine of one of her short stories and won Baltimore’s Artscape Prize. Professor Clair’s work is as beautiful as it is emotionally wrenching. In stories and in poems she is always able to capture the perfect image with the perfect feeling. Professor Clair is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Guggenheim fellowship.

A fantastically effective teacher and a valued colleague, Professor Clair has given the university years of excellent service. Her creative writing classes are legendary for the caliber of work they have inspired and for the humane way she treats her students.

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