Perspective Online

Poet Rosanna Warren Visits UWG

by Dr. Randy Hendricks

A number of years ago I had a conversation with UWG poets Greg Fraser and Chad Davidson about contemporaries they admired. Both began singing the praises of Rosanna Warren. I shared their enthusiasm and surprised them both when I told them I knew her.

Poet Rosanna Warren Visits UWG I know Rosanna because most of my scholarship has been devoted to the writing of her father, Robert Penn Warren, and she has over the years been patient and helpful in responding to my many questions. Rosanna was amused when I told her Greg and Chad were not aware of the family connection, but it’s not so surprising. She has never depended on family connections for her professional success. She is a translator, an editor, a literary scholar, and the author of five highly acclaimed volumes of poetry. She has won Pushcart Prizes, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit in poetry, and the Lamont Poetry Prize, among others, and she has held several prestigious fellowships, including a Guggenheim. A passionate and prizewinning teacher, she holds the Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Professorship at the University of Chicago.

As our conversation continued Greg and Chad pointed out the obvious: if you know Rosanna, why haven’t you brought her to UWG for a reading? I heard the implied “you numbskull” at the end of the question.

It took a few years, but Rosanna did pay a visit to UWG on October 31 and November 1. She was a panelist in our annual symposium on “The Shape of the Humanities in Higher Education” in the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts and on the following night she read from her poetry in Cashen Hall.

But the visit was not her first impression of UWG. Rosanna doesn’t teach creative writing; she teaches literature, in multiple languages but with an emphasis on modern French, and thinks that the study of literature is the proper seed for writing. But over the summer she worked with UWG poetry minor and Eclectic editor Diamond Forde at Skidmore. As we talked on the ride from the airport to Carrollton, Rosanna said that working with Diamond made her realize “they’re doing something right at West Georgia.”

Both she and Diamond enjoyed the reunion. While on campus Rosanna also toured the Visual Arts Building and the Center for Public History. After her reading, Underground Books, just off the square in Carrollton, hosted a reception.

When she returned home on Saturday, Rosanna emailed: “I'm heartily grateful for the marvelous visit. The visit has left me with vivid impressions of the life of the arts at West Georgia-- that studio space fiery with creation, the enthusiasm of your poets and their students, the handsome theater . . . And of the fruitful exchanges between the town and the university (like the bookstore). All in all, an inspiration.”

The visit was, of course, inspiring for a lot of people at UWG as well.

Randy Hendricks, Ph.D. is the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

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