Epstein '70 on the HillGAMBIER, Ohio (March 19, 2012)
Kenyon students are learning the craft of advanced poetry writing and exploring the art of modern American poetry this semester with award-winning poet, biographer, and dramatist Daniel Mark Epstein'70, the 2012 Richard L. Thomas Visiting Professor of Creative Writing.
Epstein's work has been widely published and performed. In the 1970s his poetry first appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and the New Republic, with the first of his seven volumes of poems published by Liveright in 1973. His plays appeared not long after, performed in regional theater and Off-Broadway, and in 1978 he received the prestigious Prix de Rome for both his poetry and dramatic works.
He began his acclaimed career as a biographer in the 1980s with the publication of Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson, now in its fourth printing. His biography Nat King Cole was a 1999 New York Times Notable Book, reviewed on the cover of the Times Book Review, and What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, was designated a New York Public Library Honoree "Book to Remember" for 2001. The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, was named one of the best books of 2008 by both the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Sun-Times. Epstein amplifies the Civil War era in two further books, one examining the lives of men who influenced Lincoln and another looking at Lincoln and Walt Whitman together as defining figures of the period.
Epstein's honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1974, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984, and an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006.
Since 1998, the Richard L. Thomas Chair has brought an internationally recognized poet or fiction writer to campus each spring semester to teach creative writing workshops and literature courses and to enrich the literary life of the campus. Recent past occupants of the Thomas Chair include Barry Unsworth, Claire Messud, Simon Ortiz, Fanny Howe, Alan Shapiro, Diane Glancy, and John Kinsella. The permanent fall-semester occupant of the Thomas Chair is Lewis Hyde.