One of the Most Inventive Minds in American Poetry at PSU April 5

March 31st, 2009 by Adam

Plymouth, N.H.-Wesley McNair, who was dubbed “One of the most inventive minds in American poetry” by the “Hartford Courant,” will be the final reader in the 2009 Eagle Pond Authors’ Series at 3 p.m. April 5 at Plymouth State University.

Series namesake Donald Hall said, “Because he is a true poet, his New England is unlimited. Whole lives fill small lines, real to this poet, therefore to us.”

McNair has been the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Among many other awards, he has received the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal (also awarded to Robert Frost, Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Robert Lowell, May Sarton, and Richard Wilbur) for his “distinguished contribution to the world of letters.” He received an Emmy Award for the script of a PBS series on Robert Frost.

His work has appeared in the “Pushcart Prize Annual,” two editions of “The Best American Poetry,” and more than 40 anthologies and textbooks. His poems and essays have appeared in “The Atlantic Monthly,” “Del Sol Review,” “Gettysburg Review,” “Iowa Review,” “Kenyon Review,” and “Mid-American Review.”

He is Professor Emeritus and Writer in Residence at the University of Maine at Farmington, where he received the Distinguished Faculty Award and the Libra Professorship.

McNair said he would like his poems to “be read by ordinary people,” in a conversation with the “Concord Monitor’s” Mike Pride. “Of course, I want to write poems that please poets I respect, too. But if I had to choose my audience, I’d probably pick the one with the ordinary people in it. The poets already know how words can restore the vision, but the others often don’t know, and need to,” McNair said.

McNair’s early years were laced with poverty, living in projects outside Springfield, Vt. “We were the ones the town brought Christmas and Easter baskets to,” he told Pride. His poems reflect that tough start. “By writing poems about common people who are in many ways outside the influence of the culture, I want to remind the reader of who we are down under some of the layers of civilized life,” he said.

Free tickets are available at the Silver Center Box Office, (603)535-ARTS or (800)779-3869.

The Eagle Pond Authors’ Series is named for co-founder Donald Hall’s ancestral home in Wilmot, which has inspired much of his work. This series brings to campus some of the most widely read and revered authors of our time. The readings are presented by the Silver Center for the Arts and supported by a generous grant from the Plymouth State University Bookstore and Follett Higher Education Group.

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