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March 28, 2012


Poet Robert McDowell, author of two collections, a book-length poem, and three limited editions, has been selected as the second Waneta Blake Visiting Professor by the University of Maine at Fort Kent's Arts and Humanities Division.

McDowell will present his work during two presentations on Wednesday, April 25. The first presentation is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the second from 7 to 8 p.m. The presentations will be held in the Nadeau Hall Teleconference Room, and are free and open to the public.

The Waneta Blake Visiting Professorship is designed to bring noteworthy writers and scholars to UMFK to work with students through courses, workshops, and seminars.

Born in California in 1953, McDowell is the author of two collections of poetry, Quiet Money (Henry Holt, 1987), and The Diviners, a book-length poem with an introduction by Dana Gioia (Peterloo Poets, England, 1995), and three limited editions: The Pact (Aralia Press, 1996), History, Hardware, & Romance (Indiana State University and New Harmony Art Gallery, 1984), and At the House of the Tin Man (Chowder Press, 1983)

While attending the University of California at Santa Cruz in the mid-1970s, McDowell studied with the poet, playwright, actor and editor of Kayak Press, George Hitchcock. After completing his Master of Fine Arts at Columbia University in 1976, McDowell returned to the West where he lived for a year in the Mojave Desert outside Palmdale, California. It was there that McDowell's poems made significant breakthroughs in subject matter and style.

For half a dozen years McDowell taught at Indiana State University Evansville, and in 1980 launched The Reaper. This polemical magazine was a leader in a movement to restore storytelling, narrative techniques, and form, to American poetry.

McDowell left teaching in 1984, and along with his wife, the artist Lysa McDowell, founded Story Line Press in 1985. McDowell's poetry, criticism, and fiction have been published widely here and abroad in magazines such as The Hudson Review, Poetry, The New Criterion, The Kenyon Review, London Magazine, and Zzyzyva, among others.

His poetry is discussed in Ian Hamilton's Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry and appears in Best American Poetry; For a Living: the Poetry of Wor;, Conversant Essays; and Under 35: the New Generation of American Poets.

McDowell's other published books include How I Came to Know Fish by Ota Pavel, stories translated from the Czech with Jindriska Badal (Story Line Press, 1989, New Directions, 1990); the revised Sound and Form in Modern Poetry with Harvey Gross (University of Michigan Press, 1996); and The Reaper Essays (Story Line Press, 1995). He also is the editor of the anthology of essays, Poetry After Modernism (Story Line Press, 1988; 2nd revised edition, 1998).

McDowell lives with his family on a small farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley, where he is executive director of Story Line Press, raises horses, and co-manages and plays (lifetime batting average: .321) for the champion Brownsville Brooklyn Dodgers in the Eugene Senior Men's Baseball League.