March 3, 2010
Webster University English Professor Named Missouri's Poet Laureate
Read Prof. Clewell's recent remarks to young readers and writers
Webster University Professor of English David Clewell has been appointed Missouri's second Poet Laureate. Mo. First Lady Georganne Nixon made the announcement today at the Poetry Out Loud competition in Jefferson City. The two-year term of Missouri's first poet laureate, Walter Bargen, ended in January. Clewell's term will expire on Jan. 31, 2012.
According to a press release from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's office, Clewell was selected because of his work promoting literacy, including "conducting numerous poetry workshops and discussions for K-12 students and teachers in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and giving frequent poetry readings at schools, nursing homes and civic organizations throughout the state." During his two-year term, Clewell will write a poem in honor of Missouri and serve as an ambassador for Missouri poetry. Several examples of Clewell's poetry are available online at governor.mo.gov.
"Webster University is honored to be the home of Missouri's new Poet Laureate, Professor David Clewell," said Webster University President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. "As a valued member of Webster's distinguished faculty and director of our creative writing program, Professor Clewell works directly with Webster students studying 19th and 20th century literature and participating in poetry workshops. Recognized for the quality of his poetry that has enjoyed wide publication, Professor Clewell evidences Webster's commitment to serving and strengthening communities through his workshops, discussions, and readings provided for K-12 students and teachers and community groups."
Clewell has been an English professor at Webster University since 1981 where he teaches and coordinates the university's Visiting Writer Series, a program he started in 1986. Clewell's poetry is represented in five dozen anthologies. He also has published seven collections of poems, including "The Low End of Higher Things" (2003, University of Wisconsin Press) and two book-length poems "The Conspiracy Quartet" (1997, Garlic Press) and "Jack Ruby's America" (2000, Garlic Press). His work has appeared regularly in a wide variety of magazines, including Harper's, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, Ontario Review, New Letters, and Yankee. Clewell has received the Pollak Poetry Prize for "Now We're Getting Somewhere" and the Lavan Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His "Blessings in Disguise" was a winner in the National Poetry Series. Clewell holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin and an MFA from Washington University.
"David Clewell is the poet's poet, the teacher's teacher," said David Wilson, dean of Webster University's College of Arts and Sciences. " He has always made us proud and has now made us prouder."
"You don’t have to spend very long with David Clewell, or his poetry, to know that he has a unique perspective on contemporary American life and the characters and ideas that loom large in our recent history," said Gov. Nixon. "David's wry humor, tart social commentary and accessible style give his poetry a broad appeal. He also brings a passion for teaching literature, and will help expose a new generation of Missourians not only to his fine work, but to the work of great American poets from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to Missouri's own Mark Twain."
The Dec. 24, 2009 Missouri Executive Order 09-28 describes the Poet Laureate position as follows:
"The Poet Laureate shall be named in January, 2010, and biennially thereafter, and shall serve for two years, at the pleasure of the Governor. In addition to other criteria established, the Poet Laureate must be a published poet, a resident of Missouri, be active in the poetry community, and be willing and able to promote poetry in the state of Missouri throughout the two-year term. The Poet Laureate shall be responsible for promoting the arts in Missouri by making public appearances at public libraries and schools across the state. The Poet Laureate shall also compose an original poem in honor of Missouri that may be used for publication and distribution."
With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University is a worldwide institution committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. Founded in 1915, Webster offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges, and a global network of more than 100 campuses. Its 20,000-plus student population represents almost 150 nationalities. Since opening its first campus overseas in Geneva in 1978, Webster has become a recognized leader and innovator in global education, with an international presence that now includes campuses in London; Vienna; Amsterdam and Leiden, the Netherlands; Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu, China; and Bangkok and Cha-am, Thailand. Webster also has educational partnerships with universities in Mexico and Japan.