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April 24, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Alumni News | Poet Stanley Plumly Dies

The Washington Post reports on Ohio University alum Stanley Plumly in an obituary headlined “Stanley Plumly, Md. poet laureate who wrote of nature and memory, dies at 79.”

Mr. Plumly said his twin obsessions during his youth were basketball and reading. He graduated in 1961 from Wilmington College in Ohio, then did graduate work at Ohio University.

He published his first book of poetry in 1970 and taught at the University of Iowa, Princeton University, Columbia University and the University of Houston before coming to the University of Maryland.

He edited the Ohio Review and the Iowa Review and several anthologies of poetry. In 2018, he published “Elegy Landscapes: Constable and Turner and the Intimate Sublime,” in which he examined the artistic temperaments of British painters John Constable and J.M.W. Turner.

Read his obituary in the Washington Post.

The Poetry Foundation features a profile on Plumly’s life:

Poet Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio, and grew up in the lumber and farming regions of Virginia and Ohio. His father was a lumberjack and welder who died at age 56 of a heart attack linked to his alcoholism. Plumly’s parents, and his working-class upbringing, figure frequently in his work, especially his early books. Plumly earned a BA at Wilmington College, a Quaker school in Ohio, and a PhD at Ohio University.

Plumly was the author of numerous collections of poetry, including In the Outer Dark (1970), winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and Out-of-the-Body Travel (1978), nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other works include Giraffe (1973), Summer Celestial (1983), Boy on the Step (1989), The Marriage in the Trees (1997), and Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New and Selected Poems 1970-2000 (2000), and Against Sunset (2017). His collection Old Heart (2009) won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Paterson Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His collection, Orphan Hours (2013), confronted his own cancer diagnosis as well as the possibilities of mortality, including the creative potential of memory. In the Harvard Review, Chris Cunningham noted “it is the synthesis of art and memory, the past made present again through poetry, that brings Plumly as close as he will come to redemption: the collection is shot through with Wordsworthian ‘spots of time,’ vividly recalled and recorded moments in which people and things—family members, lovers, friends, strangers on the street—come back to life.”

Read more at the Poetry Foundation.

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