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Wesleyan Remembers Its Poet Laureate, Richard Wilbur

Courtesy of Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives
Richard Wilbur (third from left) at Wesleyan

Wesleyan University is celebrating one of its own this month as it honors former U.S. Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur.

Wilbur, who passed away last year aged 96, was a National Book Award winner, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He taught at Wesleyan for some 20 years between the 1950s and the 1970s. 

Years later, he shared his thoughts on teaching poetry to undergraduates, saying he often made the first two hours of his classes particularly rigorous, as a way of reducing the class size.

"If it were possible not to scare people out of writing at all, I think it might be good to begin a creative writing course by saying -- you are proposing to enter the arena in which John Milton wrote, and Shakespeare wrote. So don't be too self indulgent, and be hard on yourself," he told an interviewer.

He'll be honored at the University's Memorial Chapel later this month, in an event that will feature performances of his work, as well as a display of photographs and video footage of the poet himself.

At Wesleyan, Wilbur was instrumental in founding what became an award-winning poetry series at the University Press.

A Celebration of Richard Wilbur, Poet for All Seasons, takes place Tuesday, March 27, 2018 7:00 PM at Wesleyan University Memorial Chapel. More information at wesleyan.edu

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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