Department of English

Acclaimed poets David Wevill and Michael McGriff will give November 10 Ransom Center reading

Wed, September 1, 2010
Acclaimed poets David Wevill and Michael McGriff will give November 10 Ransom Center reading

The Michener Center for Writers and the Department of English will sponsor a November 10 reading by our poetry professor emeritus David Wevill and MCW alum Michael McGriff to celebrate a new U.S. edition of Wevill's collected works edited by McGriff.

David Wevill was the heart and soul of the poetry program at the University for over 30 years. One of the most enigmatic poets of his postwar generation, Wevill, a Canadian born in Japan and educated at Cambridge, burst onto the London literary scene in his early 20s as a member of the groundbreaking collective The Group. He moved to Austin in the early 1970s to pursue translation work, his other passion, and joined the UT faculty, where he remained until his retirement in 2007. British and Canadian presses continued to bring out the lion's share of his work—over a dozen volumes of his own poetry and prose and numerous important translations—and he became known as one of the best kept secrets of our own national literary history.  

Michael McGriff earned his MFA from the Michener Center for Writers in 2006. As he read his mentor's work, he felt that a definitive American edition of Wevill's collected works was needed and approached him about editing such a book. The result is To Build My Shadow a Fire, published by Truman State University Press this year.  "A rare harvest of a lifetime of truth-telling," says poet Eavan Boland of the collection.

McGriff, like many of Wevill's former students, has gone on to win some of the most esteemed honors for young poets:  a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, and, just this year, a distinguished Lannan Fellowship.  His first book was Dismantling the Hills, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and his second is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. Like his mentor, McGriff is also a translator, and his edition of Tomas Tranströmer's The Sorrow Gondola came out from Green Integer this year. He is also co-founder of Tavern Books, an independent press devoted to translations and reissuing out-of-print works of poetry. Their first full-length title is another Wevill book, his 1983 prose-poem collection, Casual Ties.  

The reading is at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at the Ransom Center's Prothro Theatre, corner of 21st and Guadalupe on campus. Copies of To Build My Shadow a Fire will be available from the publisher.

For more information see the MCW web site, or call 471-1601.

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