(March 3, 2010)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Poet Stanley Plumly to Receive the 20th Annual Corrington Award

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service)—The poet Stanley Plumly, whose most recent book is a "personal biography" of the English poet John Keats, will receive the John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence Tuesday, March 16 beginning at 7 p.m. in the Whited Room located in Bynum Commons on Centenary's campus.

Stanley Plumly
Stanley Plumly

Corrington medal

Plumly is the 20th recipient of the award, and will read from his own work during the evening event. Sponsored by the Centenary English Department, the event is free and open to the public.

Born in 1939, Plumly grew up in his native Ohio and in Virginia. Educated at Wilmington College in Ohio, a liberal arts college founded by Quakers, and at Ohio University, Plumly began his distinguished teaching career as an instructor in creative writing at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in 1968. Since 1985 he has taught at the University of Maryland, where he directs the Creative Writing Program.

Plumly is the author of eight books of poetry. The most recent is Old Heart (2007), a finalist for the National Book Award. A persistent concern in Plumly's autobiographical poems is his relationship with his alcoholic father, who died of a heart attack at 56. "Increasingly," according to the literary scholar Ronald Baughman, "the poet's chief concern is the how and why of memory, how and why exercising memory and writing poetry are virtually synonymous."

Another theme in Plumly's poetry is the "chance for immortality" through a union with nature. "I could come back as a bird," Plumly has said in an interview. "Human beings are the most fragile and beautiful presences on the planet because they end up ... turned into everything else, animals, vegetable, mineral, whatever, with a little left over."

As a reviewer of Plumly's 2000 retrospective collection, Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me, observed, "No one writes so electrically about birds and trees, wind and clouds and rain, yet the focus is always on human consciousness."

Articles as well as poems by Plumly appear regularly in such periodicals as The American Poetry Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker. His articles, as Ronald Baughman notes, have made Plumly "an important commentator on and theoretician of contemporary poetry in general."

Plumly's 2008 "personal biography" Posthumous Keats was lavishly reviewed by professional scholars and fellow creative writers alike. Jack Stillinger, the editor of the standard edition of Keats's poems, declared it to be "certainly the best book ever written about Keats," and the novelist Nicholas Delbanco described it as "beautiful" and "brilliant." The poet and editor of The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ted Genoways, found it to be "full of feeling and drama and those fleeting moments we call genius."

A selection of Plumly's books is for sale at the Centenary College book store.

Named for the novelist and Centenary alumnus John William Corrington ('56), the award takes the form of a bronze medal designed by the Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell. This year's presentation marks the 20th year of this annual event. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and author of short stories Eudora Welty became the first recipient in 1991. Other Corrington medalists include Ernest J. Gaines, James Dickey, Elizabeth Spencer, Richard Wilbur, Eavan Boland, Michael Longley, and Yusef Komunyakaa.

For additional information contact Centenary Professor of English David Havird at 869-5085 or 869-5254 or by email: email.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in the Shreveport and Bossier City communities.