brazaitis-mMark Brazaitis( Guatemala 1991-93)  Director of Creative Writing at West Virginia University has won that university’s 2010  Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award.  This award includes $5,000 and recognition at the University Honors Convocation.

Mark has published four award-winning books, including The Other Language, winner of the 2008 ABZ Poetry Prize and An American Affair, winner of the 2004 George Garrett Fiction Prize, and the novel Steal My Heart which won the 2001 Maria Thomas Fiction Award from PeaceCorpsWriters.

His work, including 40 short stories, 50 poems and numerous essays, has been published in a wide range of prominent literary magazines. He has also written pieces for top newspapers and was the screenwriter for the award-winning Peace Corps documentary, “How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make a Difference?” Mark also worked parttime as a writer for the New York Recruitment Office after earning his masters in Ohio.

A recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, Mark is listed as a Peace Corps Notable Returned Volunteer in recognition of his literary success. His Peace Corps assignment landed him in Guatemala was to instruct farmers on the particulars of grain-storage and crop improvement techniques, but he also taught English in his village. “I had never taught in a classroom. For supplies, I had a piece of chalk and a blackboard. I had three classes of 40 students each. I couldn’t do anything but improvise. I improvised every day.”

Mark graduated from Harvard and received an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University. He is married and the father of two lovely daughters.

This award couldn’t go to a better writer, or a better person. Congratulations Mark!