October 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

Notable Alumni | Rachael Peckham Teaches Creative Writing at Marshall

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences launches the Notable Alumni Awards, honoring 37 Notable Alumni in 2017 for broad accomplishments in their careers, a commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University, the College of Arts & Sciences, and its students.

Dr. Rachael Peckham is an associate professor of English at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V., where she’s received numerous awards.

She earned a Ph.D. in creative writing in 2009 from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University, where she specialized in contemporary forms of the personal essay.

At Marshall, where she teaches the study and craft of creative nonfiction, she’s been awarded a Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award for junior faculty, a Pickens-Queen Teaching Award, multiple Summer Research Awards, and the prestigious John Deaver Drinko Fellowship, a $20,000 award in support of faculty research and scholarship.

Dr. Rachael Peckham, black and white portrait

Dr. Rachael Peckham

In terms of Peckham’s creative body of work, she is the 2016 winner of Indiana Review’s 1/2 K Prize, the Orison Anthology Nonfiction Award, and the Crab Orchard Review Special Feature Literary Nonfiction Award. Her prose has received notable mention in two separate editions of the Best American Essay series (2012 and 2015), and she has been a finalist in numerous poetry and essay book contests at both university and independent presses.

Her chapbook of prose poems, Muck Fire, won the Robert Watson Poetry Award at Spring Garden Press in 2010. Rachael is currently at work on a collection of essays entitled “The Aviatrix,” encircling the themes of flight and trauma.

Rachael Peckham gets her doctoral hood at graduation.

Rachael Peckham gets her doctoral hood at graduation.

Favorite Bobcat Memories and Mentors

“At Ohio University, I studied the history and form of the personal essay with David Lazar, Catherine Taylor, Dinty W. Moore, and Diana Hume George. What a pantheon of personal essayists! Every single one of them had a profound impact on my work and my academic career, and I am forever indebted to my mentors,” Peckham says.

Peckham with former visiting nonfiction writer-in-residence, Diana Hume George

Peckham with former visiting nonfiction writer-in-residence, Diana Hume George

“They challenged me every day, but they did so with great care and compassion. I felt welcomed not only across their desks and in their classrooms, but in their homes, around their dinner tables, in their backyards, admiring the bounty of their gardens.

“I will always picture David Lazar on the porch of Ellis during brief breaks from class, smoking a cigarette and coaching me on how I was there ‘to be a scholar of the form, first and foremost.’ I will always picture Catherine Taylor at the front of the classroom, passionately introducing the latest film in the nonfiction film series she had started,” Peckham continues. “(In full disclosure, I didn’t understand any of them, but her enthusiasm was so contagious, I attended every single screening.)”

“I will always picture Dinty at the stove in his kitchen, stirring the most amazing marinara—or in his garden, marveling at plants whose names elude me still. He is a teacher, in every capacity. And I will always picture Diana Hume George—though she was only there a semester—wearing a different wildly-colored scarf every day, dazzling us in every possible way—a true teacher-magician. She could pull the words from anybody.

“Ohio University and [its] faculty will always occupy a huge place in my heart. I return to Athens more than any other place I’ve lived, for that reason. It’s home. It always will be.”

Creative Writing Students (L to R): Rachael Peckham, David Wanczyk, and Joey Franklin, on cover of the Graduate Studies in Creative Writing Handbook 2009-10

Creative Writing Students (L to R): Rachael Peckham, David Wanczyk, and Joey Franklin

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