Nebraska Arts Council artist services and communications manager, 402.595.2142
Dr. Gene Fendt, a professor of philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council.
The Individual Artist Fellowship program recognizes artists for work in their respective fields. The fellowship program rotates among three categories – literature, performing arts and visual arts. Dr. Fendt received a fellowship in the literature category for his poetry.
As a part of the application process, candidates for the fellowship program submit supporting materials to be examined by a panel of judges. According to Nebraska Arts Council artist services and communications manager J.D. Hutton, selection for the fellowship award is made by a jury of professionals in the artistic field under review. Jurors for the literature category were Kim Anderson, director of Montana Center for the Book; Fred Haesle, writer and professor; and Lois Welch, professor emerita at the University of Montana. Applications are judged using a blind jury process. Support materials were submitted without names and were judged solely on the merit of the work.
Hutton said Dr. Fendt included five poems in his support package. The poems were “Elizabeth,” “Elegy, for my father,” “What we do not say,” “Elegy in ordinary time” and “Galapagos: Sea Turtle,” which is available online at http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/NCW/fendtsel.htm.
When Dr. Fendt was asked about his interest in poetry, he said that he is interested in poetry, because it is a practice of humility.
“As John Keats said, ‘A poet has to have negative capability, the ability to empty himself and let the thing, or event, or other person come to be and speak through him.’ Or to use a phrase of Socrates’s, ‘The poet is a midwife, something else gets a chance to speak or exhibit itself through him,’” Dr. Fendt said.
The topics Dr. Fendt said he enjoys covering in his works relate to the texts that he reads with students in his courses.
“I don’t have much time for serious study of other books, but that doesn’t disturb me much, because my course schedule here each semester requires that I read some of the best books ever written,” Dr. Fendt said.
Not confined to short works, Dr. Fendt has also authored books, his latest being Love Song for the Life of the Mind.
“The premise [of the book] is that Aristotle and Plato are correct in their belief that the happiest life for a human being is the life of contemplation, but the social and physical life of human beings obscures this and makes it exceedingly difficult to achieve. Therefore, we need the arts to exercise and strengthen our passions, so that we will aim rightly and become more capable of achieving that highest good – happiness,” Dr. Fendt said.
In addition to the number of works Dr. Fendt has authored, he was also an invited scholar to the University of Copenhagen in 1996, won a Nebraska Arts Council individual artist award for playwriting in 1999, and earned a Pratt-Heins Award for Scholarship in 2002.