Washington and Lee University senior Max Chapnick of White Plains, N.Y., has received a Creative Writing/Arts Fulbright grant to New Zealand and to the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, following his graduation in May.
Chapnick is double majoring in physics and English with a minor in creative writing. His Fulbright project is “Finding Truth in New Zealand’s Verses and Equations.”
Chapnick said he chose New Zealand for a number of reasons. After learning of Professor Lesley Wheeler’s Fulbright grant to the IIML in 2010-2011 to study communities of poets in New Zealand, “the project fell together as if by some invisible force,” he said.
He discovered the beginnings of a project that paired New Zealand’s most distinguished physicists and writers for a year of collaboration resulting in a book “Are Angels OK? The Parallel Universes of New Zealand’s Writers and Scientists.” Bill Manhire, who co-edited the book, agreed to support Chapnick’s application and admission to IIML’s master’s program. While working on his master’s there, Chapnick “plans on interviewing as many of the contributors to 'Are Angels OK?' as I can and writing, in a similar style, a manuscript of poems about physics and poetry.”
He also has been invited to audit graduate and post-graduate physics courses from John Spencer, the head of the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria University. Chapnick said, “Science and art, and physics and poetry, complement each other; one fulfills our need for certified measurements, the other for subjective perspectives.”
“Max is the quintessential liberal arts student, enthusiastic about learning across major disciplinary divides,” said Wheeler. “His project involves the intersections of poetry and science, and he's exceptionally well prepared to undertake it. I love his adventurous spirit, his hunger for serious conversation and his sense of humor. He's an extraordinary human being and he'll be a great ambassador in the Fulbright tradition.”
While at W&L, Chapnick has been a member of the Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Pit Band and University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra (French horn); W&L’s Hillel; and Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He tutors at The Writing Center and was co-editor of a feature on New Zealand poetry for the February 2013 Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review.
Chapnick said, “I have always wanted to combine my love of writing with my love of physics. This Fulbright is an unbelievable opportunity that will allow me to study both at once: to write about physics. I have also always wanted to travel after college, and though I have never been there, I am sure Wellington will be a fantastic place to spend a year.”
Sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program.