PITTSBURGH – Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic writing program has received a gift of $25,000 from two Madwomen to establish the Walter Noll and Kellie Entwisle Endowment.
The endowment will be used to provide need-based scholarships for students attending the Madwomen in the Attic Writing Program at Carlow.
“We are beyond thrilled with this extremely generous gift to help women in their writing lives,” said Jan Beatty, director of the Madwomen in the Attic program, who recently had her sixth book of poetry, “The Body Wars,” published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, and “My Father Disappears into Flowers,” a poem from that book, was published in August in The New York Times.
The Madwomen in the Attic program offers semester-long writing workshops open to both undergraduate and community writers that bridge the gap between the university and the community. Taught by working writers, these small, supportive, intergenerational workshops allow participants to develop and strengthen their creative voices in poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Participants range in age from early 20s into their 90s.
Marilyn Marsh Noll is one of the Madwomen who valued the opportunity to shape her creative voice through the workshops. She dedicated her part of the Endowed Fund to her husband, Walter Noll. Walter Noll (1925 – 2017) was an American mathematician of German descent who immigrated to the United States in 1955. He joined Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1956 as a professor of mathematics until his retirement. He made lasting contributions to the foundations of continuum physics and the classical non-linear field theory. His many mathematical colleagues lauded him in their book, “Conceptual Structure of Continuum Physics in Recognition of the Fundamental Contributions of Walter Noll” (Springer Nature B.V. 2020). The foreword states, “His impact during a half century ‘golden period’ of advancement in continuum mechanics was great and will be lasting.”
Noll was enthusiastic about his wife and her participation in Carlow University’s writing program, Madwomen in the Attic. While he was able, he accompanied Marilyn at many Madwomen poetry readings and met many poets. His encouragement meant a great deal to her, and that is why she dedicates her part of the Endowed Fund to him.
The other donor has chosen to remain anonymous. She is also a Madwoman and has dedicated her part of the Endowment to her sister, Kellie Entwisle. For 20 years, Kellie Entwisle wrote and submitted poetry, largely while living in Pittsburgh and rural western Pennsylvania, until her death at the age of 36. Finances were one reason she was unable to study writing or attend Madwomen in the Attic workshops. This endowment is being created so more women will write with the support and encouragement the Madwomen in the Attic can provide.
The Madwomen in the Attic were formed in 1979 by Ellie Wymard, PhD, faculty emerita and the former director of Carlow’s MFA program in creative writing. Jane Candia Coleman, a fiction writer, Pittsburgh native and current Arizona resident who has written several award-winning books about the women and men of the west, was the original teacher of the Madwomen. After an appearance on the Carlow campus by the writer Tillie Olsen, they noticed the enthusiastic turnout and questions, poems, and stories from women in the audience and felt there was a hunger and need for women’s stories to be told. The Madwomen in the Attic were born.
Over the years, visiting writers such as Tess Gallagher, Maggie Anderson, Marita Golden, Alicia Ostriker, Patricia Smith, Judith Vollmer, Maxine Kumin and Jean Valentine would arrive to feed this hunger. The Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops were named after the groundbreaking study by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar on the 19th Century woman writer. The beloved poet Patricia Dobler directed and developed the Madwomen Workshops until her death in 2004. Dobler dedicated many years of her working life to the Madwomen to create an inclusive, vibrant atmosphere where women of varied backgrounds could meet and study the craft of writing. For this, the Madwomen will be forever grateful.
Through the years since, the Madwomen in the Attic have brought these writers of different ages and varying interests together to support each other and develop their writing. The classes have grown to eleven sections per semester, with a National Online Madwomen Program starting in September, 2020 and over 800 current and interested Madwomen.
Other developments include a national reading series, a mentoring program, an annual anthology, Mad Fridays, a local reading series featuring the work of Madwomen, the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, a national prize for women over the age of 40 who have not yet published a book, MadBooks, a small press that publishes the work of Madwomen, and Mad Bookends, a twice-weekly feature to highlight the work of African American, Indigenous, and women writers of color worldwide, co-curated by Veronica Corpuz and Sarah Williams-Devereux.
Students have had their work published in various journals including AGNI, North American Review, Southern Poetry Review, Quarterly West, Cimarron Review, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Wall Street Journal. They also have published books with Autumn House Press, Bottom Dog Press, Main Street Rag, New American Press, Red Hen Press, and Yes Yes Books.
“Even though the writers have far-ranging interests and backgrounds, they have one thing in common – a love of writing,” Beatty said. “The scholarship may include assistance with tuition, books and supplies, transportation, and other needs related to Madwomen studies.”