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Sunday November 23, 2014
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A Room of One's Own

 

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A black-framed poster of Salvador Dali's "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening" hangs above the large particle-board desk she bought from her friends. A sparse, modern shelving unit holds a map of Sri Lanka, family photos, a printer, stacks of notebooks and research materials, a white teapot, and a geometric wooden sculpture, a rougher take on Rodin's The Thinker. In the center of the three shelves rests a grouping of books that she rotates in and out depending on what she's using at any given moment. These include Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, Anne Carson's Nox, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. "I keep the ones I really like close to me," she says. "I'd love to have enough space to keep all of them near me."

"Privacy and silence mean a lot to me. I can't work in my U of M office," says Nick Delbanco as he leads the way to his second-floor study. Framed pen-and-ink and pencil portraits of poets line the stairwell, as if to offer challenge and inspiration.

The Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English, director of the MFA writing program, and chair of the Hopwood Awards program has lived in this Geddes Heights home since moving here from Vermont in 1985. The half-shuttered windows of his study give a serene, tree-house feel to the room. One of the built-in bookshelves displays the twenty-six books Delbanco has published since 1966 (the most recent is Lastingness: The Art of Old Age) as well as those written by his brother Andrew and daughter Francesca. Others hold books personally inscribed to him and his wife, Elena, by their authors.

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