The Memory of Water — the final book by late SMU creative writing professor and past Poet Laureate of Texas Jack Myers — is a nominee for 2012 Pulitzer and Pushcart Prizes. The honors inspired a Portable Poetry Workshop celebration in Myers’ honor Nov. 29.
The free event on what would have been Myers’ 70th birthday was held at Paperbacks Plus in Lakewood and was sponsored by the nonprofit literary center The Writer’s Garret, which Myers helped create in 1994 with his wife, Thea Temple, and several others.
Pulitzer Prize winners for works published this year will be announced in April 2012 and honored at a luncheon in late May. Pushcart Prizes, which honor the best literary works published by small presses, also will be announced next spring.
“Jack’s work has always been a marvel,” says William Olsen, editor of the New Issues Poetry and Prose division at Western Michigan University, publisher of The Memory of Water. “His poems are exceptional for how they can look at hard losses with a special wisdom that allows for yearning and wonder.”
Myers served the English Department in SMU’s Dedman College for more than 30 years until his death in 2009. He wrote hundreds of highly praised poems and eight books about poetry, including The Longman Dictionary of Poetic Terms and The Portable Poetry Workshop. He also edited anthologies and 10 collections of poetry. He received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and was winner of the National Poetry Series in 1985.
After I am gone and the ache begins
to cease and the slow erosion I felt,
being older than you, invades you too,
you’ll come to see that an image of the desert
is the memory of water, like remembering.
When we were walking in beautiful Barcelona
and you said you thought the trees were gods
because they were rooted in earth
and flew in the air and magically made food
out of light and made the air we breathe.
— Jack Elliott Myers, “The Memory of Water”
> Find more about Myers at SMU News
SMU will host a memorial celebration for English Professor Jack Myers at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. A reception will immediately follow at 4:30 p.m., in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom, featuring an interactive retrospective on Myers’ life and work.
Myers died Nov. 30 at his Mesquite home. He taught English in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences from 1975 until spring 2008.
He received many honors for his work, including being selected as poet laureate of Texas in 2003-04. He was also co-founder (with his wife, Thea Temple) of the Writer’s Garret in Dallas.
The author of 18 books of and about poetry, including Routine Heaven and The Portable Poetry Workshop, Myers won the 2001 Violet Crow Award for best literary book in Texas for The Glowing River. His 1985 collection, As Long As You’re Happy, won the National Poetry Series.
Memorials may be made to the Writer’s Garret, PO Box 140530, Dallas TX 75214-0530.
• Read the memorial published in The Dallas Morning News
• Learn more at the Writer’s Garret website
SMU alumnus, author and Professor Emeritus Marsh Terry shared a Homecoming Week panel with Journalism Professor Emeritus and Dallas historian Darwin Payne to celebrate a new edition of Terry’s classic 1993 history of SMU. The 2008 release of From High on the Hilltop: Marshall Terry’s History of SMU with Various Essays by his Colleagues features 14 essays on topics such as the state of Dallas at SMU’s founding, the University’s early women leaders, sports traditions, student life and SMU-in-Taos.
The essayists include SMU President R. Gerald Turner, English Professor Jack Myers, Associate Vice President and Executive Director of Public Affairs Patricia Ann LaSalle and the late James Caswell, former vice president of student affairs. The book also includes historical photos, some newly culled from the SMU Archives especially for this edition.
“The essays are a good cross section and make a nice balance,” says Terry (’53, ’54), E.A. Lilly Professor Emeritus of English in Dedman College and a recipient of SMU’s 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award. “All the writers have SMU experience from which to draw.”
Terry, who retired in 2007 after 52 years as a teacher and administrator, says he enjoyed telling the SMU story because he lived it. “I knew of so much that happened throughout the different eras of the presidents from Willis M. Tate to R. Gerald Turner,” he says.
“SMU is an important part of higher education in the United States, Texas and Dallas,” says Payne, also a contributor to the book. “It’s always important to know your past.”
The new edition of the book is published as SMU prepares to celebrate the centennial of its founding in 2011 and opening in 2015. It is available from the SMU Bookstore, publisher Three Forks Press and Amazon.com.
The SMU Faculty Club will host a book-signing with Terry 4-6 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Faculty Club. Wine and cheese will be served. RSVP by Nov. 17 to Dee Powell, 8-3012.