SOA English instructor publishes major reference book on American poetry

  • Saturday, May 18, 2013

“Twenty-First Century American Poets,” edited by Charleston County School of the Arts English teacher Dr. John Cusatis, will be published this month by Gale, as part of the internationally esteemed reference collection Dictionary of Literary Biography. Library Journal has referred to the DLB as “hands-down the best overall literary reference work ever published, a proverbial diamond as big as the Ritz.”

“This is truly an SOA book,” said, Cusatis, who earned his PhD in English from the University of South Carolina. In addition to Cusatis’s introduction, the 300-page book includes two major entries by SOA creative writing teachers Sean Scapellato and Rutledge Hammes on Natasha Trethewey (the current U.S. Poet Laureate) and Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn, respectively.

Most importantly, in addition to its 24 essays on leading American poets, roughly one third of the volume is made up of lengthy interviews conducted by Dr. Cusatis’s AP English students with 14 of these poets via Skype or conference call over the past four years. This is the first time a standard DLB volume has included either interviews or the work of high school students.

Here is a link to the Library of Congress listing:


Dr. Cusatis is currently working on a second volume of the book, which will again include articles from several SOA faculty members as well as 15 more student interviews.

School staff are very proud of everyone’s hard work and dedication and look forward to the publication later this month.

Charleston County School of the Arts (SOA) offers students rich and intensive instruction in eight art majors in a unique sixth through twelfth grade setting. Students may apply and audition for two areas, and once accepted into a major, spend one-fourth of their day with dynamic teachers in that art area. Art majors include instrumental band, creative writing, dance, piano, string orchestra, theater, visual art and vocal music. SOA’s students excel at the local, state and national level, earning awards, scholarships, and the respect of audience members, peers, and patrons of the arts.

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