UNCG Campus Weekly

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Randall Jarrell centennial: symposium and celebration at UNCG

Photo of Randall Jarrell courtesy Special Manuscripts & University ArchivesUNCG’s most well-known figure in its storied history? That’s likely Randall Jarrell.

A UNCG professor from 1947 until his death in 1967, the acclaimed poet, essayist, novelist and critic would have been 100 years old this year. The spotlight will be turned on his work and legacy this month at UNCG.

The Randall Jarrell Centennial Symposium and Celebration will be held April 24-25 on campus.

Some highlights:

  • Stephen Burt, poet, professor at Harvard University, and author of “Randall Jarrell and His Age,” will give a poetry reading.
  • UNCG professor emeritus Fred Chappell, former NC Poet Laureate, will provide the symposium’s first talk, introduced by Professor Michael Parker.
  • Noted photographer of North Carolina writers Jan Hensley will give a photography presentation, at a large tea honoring the Class of 1952.
  • Betty Watson, whose portraits of Jarrell hang at the National Portrait Gallery and in Jackson Library, will speak on the painting of those portraits.
  • Stuart Dischell, Linda Gregerson, Anthony J. Cuda and James Applewhite will be among the speakers at the two-day event.

“We are gathering together to celebrate and pay homage to the works of one of America’s most important poets and literary critics – the most prestigious figure to be involved with UNCG when it was the Woman’s College,” said Dischell, poet and UNCG professor. “We will be hosting both young scholars presenting papers on his writing as well as the most distinguished poet/scholars in the country.”

The event not only acknowledges the centennial of Jarrell’s birth, he explains. “We are also celebrating the history of our university and the Woman’s College.”

Jarrell, who was consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress – a position now known as Poet Laureate – was highly influential. “Jarrell’s significance as a poet grows with each generation that reads his work. His use of persona – writing in the voices of others – was in advance of the poetry of his contemporaries. Jarrell’s use of myth and fairy tales as points of departure for his poems also presages the works of the poets to follow,” Dischell said.

And his influence went further. “His literary criticism changed the way American readers and critics approached the art form.”

The event is hosted by the UNCG MFA Writing Program and The Greensboro Review.

All events will be on the UNCG campus. For details and a complete schedule, see http://mfagreensboro.org/event/randall-jarrell-centennial-symposium-celebration/.

By Mike Harris

Photo courtesy Special Manuscripts & University Archives