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Dedication for May Swenson Birthplace Sign

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013

May Swenson sitting on the steps of the family home in Logan
A photo of May Swenson from USU's Special Collections and Archives shows May sitting on the front steps of the family home in Logan, Utah.

The birthplace of noted poet, Logan native and Utah State University alum (’34) May Swenson will be designated a literary landmark with the dedication of a sign Monday, Oct.  21. A ceremony begins at 4 p.m. and takes place at the site of the original Swenson home near the base of USU’s Old Main Hill and 500 North in Logan where Swenson was born and grew up.


According to USU professor Joyce Kinkead, Roxanne Knudsen, executor of Swenson’s literary estate, first suggested the placement of a sign at the birthplace in 2006.


“Zan sent me a copy of the New York Times that had just featured Robert Frost’s house near North Bennington, Vt., in a story and suggested that ‘a humble stone at the former Swenson home place would be nice,’” Kinkead said. “It is the tenacity of my colleagues in the Department of English who have brought this project to fruition.”


Professor Paul Crumbley has been involved in the Swenson Project at USU for many years. He and professor Patricia Gantt co-hosted a symposium in 2006 dedicated to Swenson and her work which resulted in Body My House: May Swenson’s Work and Life. Crumbley also oversaw the placement of a sign at the Bear Lake overlook in northern Utah that includes Swenson’s poem “Above Bear Lake.”


The Bull Pen, USU’s creative writing club, with the help of advisor professor Jennifer Sinor, composed the birthplace sign, choosing to feature Swenson’s poem “The Truth is Forced” (1961). Students in professor Rebecca Walton’s technical and professional writing group designed the sign.


In 2013, the centennial of Swenson’s birth, several significant events have marked the occasion. Noted humorist Garrison Keillor, joined by former Utah Poet Laureate Katherine Coles, presented a reading of Swenson’s poetry April 26 on the USU campus. The Library of America published her complete works. The 16th May Swenson Poetry Award winner, M. B. McLatchey, was honored for the volume The Lame God, published by Utah State University Press. The judge for the 2014 competition is noted poet Mark Doty.


Swenson’s childhood home was located at 669 East 500 North and, although it no longer stands, the Caine House next door will provide the site of an informal reception following the sign’s dedication.


May Swenson is buried in the Swenson family plot in Logan Cemetery, a site marked by a bench inscribed with one of her poems.


Source: USU Department of English

Contact: Marina Hall, 435-797-3858, marina.hall@usu.edu

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