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Lives of the Poets: Literary Biography from Geoffrey Chaucer to Amy Clampitt

March 23rd to May 12th

The DeGolyer Library’s new exhibit highlights several centuries of English and American poetry, with an emphasis on literary biography inspired by the poets. Over 100 volumes are on display, featuring both the well-known (Shakespeare, Wordsworth) and the more obscure (Janet Little, Ann Yearsley). DeGolyer Library has some surprising depth in its literary collections and we hope the current exhibit will encourage English majors and graduate students to pursue research projects with our materials. We also designed the exhibit to coincide with the release of Willard Spiegelman’s new book, Nothing Stays Put: The Life and Poetry of Amy Clampitt. Spiegelman, Professor of English emeritus at SMU, returned to Dallas and the Library on March 23 to give a talk on his subject. Clampitt herself is well represented in the show, and much of her work embodies the retrospective approach we’ve followed. For example, her Predecessors, Et cetera: Essays (1991) is paired with Thomas Fuller’s History of the Worthies of England (1662), the first book to include a biographical notice of Shakespeare. For lovers of poetry, and lovers of biography, “Lives of the Poets” offers many worthy examples.

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AMY CLAMPITT (1920-1994)

Predecessors, et cetera: essays

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991

Part of Michigan’s Poets on Poetry series, here Clampitt reflects on some of the writers who have influenced her work, including Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot, John Donne, Marianne Moore, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, John Berryman, Stevie Smith, James Merrill, Seamus Heaney, Howard Moss, Robert Frost, John Ashberry, and others, including St. Paul and his Epistles to the Thessalonians.