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Exhibit Traces Local Poet May Swenson to other Major American Poets

Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017


Poet and USU alumna, May Swenson

USU alumna and poet May Swenson.


Lines of Dissent, an exhibit created by students in a graduate English seminar at Utah State University, illustrates key ways the poetry of Logan native May Swenson contributes to and dissents from a female poetic tradition that extends from Emily Dickinson to the present.

Students worked closely with manuscript curator Clint Pumphrey of Utah State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Division as part of a class taught by Professor Paul Crumbley of the Utah State University Department of English.

May Swenson was born in Logan, Utah, on May 28, 1913, and graduated from Utah State University (then Utah Agricultural College) in 1934. In 1936, she departed for New York City to make a life for herself as a poet. While in New York, Swenson met Marianne Moore and struck up a friendship with Elizabeth Bishop with whom she corresponded until Bishop’s death in 1979. Swenson wrote of her admiration for Dickinson, Moore and Bishop, drawing from each poet while developing her own distinctive style. Utah State University awarded Swenson an honorary doctorate in 1987, the same year she received a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. At the time of her death in 1989, Swenson had published eleven books of poetry and served for nine years as chancellor for the Academy of American Poets.

This is a unique exhibit composed of one primary display, located on the main floor atrium of Merrill-Cazier Library. There are also four satellite displays, located at the Quinney College of Natural Resources, the Art Department in the Chase Fine Arts Center, the English Department in the Ray B. West building and outside the offices of the president and provost in Old Main. Each satellite display focuses on Swenson and one of the three other poets, Dickinson, Moore or Bishop. The main exhibit in Merrill-Cazier Library provides directions to the satellite locations.

The exhibit was installed in mid-November and will remain through the new year. For more information, contact Clint Pumphrey, 435-797-0891 (clint.pumphrey@usu.edu), or Paul Crumbley (paul.crumbley@usu.edu).

Contact: Clint Pumphrey, Clint.pumphrey@usu.edu
 





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