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Poet, author next in series later this month at UT Martin

Poet, author next in series later this month at UT Martin

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 10:41 am

The Messenger 10.15.08

Acclaimed poet and author Richard Tillinghast will speak at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 in Watkins Auditorium at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
His visit will be co-sponsored by Honors Programs and the Department of English.
“Richard Tillinghast is among the most interesting poets working today,” said Dr. Dan McDonough, Honors Programs director. “He has published widely and on a wide variety of topics. I encourage everyone to attend this session to hear the poetry and reflections of a master artist.”
Born and raised in Memphis, Tillinghast has always enjoyed a deep interest in the arts. He played the drums in several groups in nightclubs around Memphis and, later, in Marin County, Calif. He took painting and drawing classes at the Memphis Academy of Art and currently writes about art and architecture for The Hudson Review and The New Criterion.
But poetry was always his first love and he studied under the famed poet Robert Lowell while a graduate student at Harvard University. He later published a biography of his mentor, “Robert Lowell’s Life and Work: Damaged Grandeur” (1995). Having served on the faculties of Harvard University, the University of the South at Sewanee and the University of California at Berkeley, Tillinghast joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1983, where he taught until his retirement in 2005. While at Michigan, he founded the Bear River Writer’s Conference in Petoskey, Mich., in 2000, and served as director until 2005. After leaving Michigan, he moved to County Tipperary in Ireland, where he continues to write and participate in writing projects such as the Poet’s House.
Tillinghast has received numerous grants and fellowships, including a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellowship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Creative Artist Grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts. He has published eight books of poetry and two books of essays. His poems have appeared in many magazines, including Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, Poetry London, Poetry Ireland Review and online on Slate and Poetry Daily. His poems have also been featured on Garrison Keillor’s National Public Radio show, “The Writer’s Almanac.”
Widely traveled, Tillinghast often writes about the places and cultures he has visited and observed. He has a special interest in the Middle East, particularly Turkey, and is currently at work on a book of prose about Istanbul. His essay, “Istanbul in Winter,” was recently awarded the Cleanth Brooks Prize by the Southern Review.
In 2008, he published three books: the first, “Finding Ireland,” a poet’s explorations of Irish literature and culture; the second, a collaboration with his daughter, Julia Clare Tillinghast, “Dirty August,” translations from the Turkish of selected poems of Edip Cansever; and the third, from which he will read at UT Martin, “The New Life.”
“It’s always exciting to have a writer on campus and to be able to discuss their approach to the creative process,” said Dr. Lynn Alexander, Department of English chair. “Mr. Tillinghast’s work is very interesting and accessible — we should have some very interesting things to talk about. Adding to the interest is the fact that Mr. Tillinghast is from Memphis.”
For more information, contact McDonough, at (731) 881-7436 or


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