Literary Arts

Michael Harper 1938-2016

Literary Arts mourns the death of professor emeritus, Michael Harper. Professor Harper died 7 May 2016.

Michael Harper retired in December 2013 from Literary Arts. He started teaching at Brown in 1970; for the majority of his teaching career at Brown, he held the position of University Professor; as a leading figure on campus, he had carried the ceremonial mace at roughly a dozen commencements. 

A literary lion (New York Library) and recipient of the Robert Frost Medal, Michael Harper was also Rhode Island's first state poet -- a position created by the state legislature in the early 1990s in large part as a way to recognize Michael Harper's singular contributions to literature, culture and the state in which he lived and worked.

He is perhaps best known for his book, Dear John, Dear Coltrane; he was also author and editor of many other equally fine works of literature. These include Images of Kin, Debridement and Nightmare Begins Responsibility.

Michael Harper was beloved by generations of his students, undergraduates and graduate students. He served as mentor to writers, scholars and politically-motivated young men and women. His knowledge was wide and deep. His vision was generous, but also honest, tempered by history and an understanding of the human plight.

C.D. Wright, 1949-2016

We extend our deepest sympathy to Forrest and Brecht Gander as we join them in mourning the loss of poet, CD Wright, a celebrated member of the Literary Arts faculty, and part of the Brown family since 1983.

Everything Good between Men and Women

has been written in mud and butter

and barbecue sauce. The walls and

the floors used to be gorgeous.

The socks off-white and a near match.

The quince with fireblight

but we get two pints of jelly

in the end. Long walks strengthen

the back. You with a fever blister

and myself with a sty. Eyes

have we and we are forever prey

to one another's teeth. The torrents

go over us. Thunder has not harmed

anyone we know. The river coursing

through us is dirty and deep. The left

hand protects the rhythm. Watch

your head. No fires should be

unattended. Especially when wind. Each

receives a free swiss army knife.

The first few tongues are clearly

preparatory. The impression

made by yours I carry to my grave. It is

just so sad so creepy so beautiful.

Bless it. We have so little time

to learn, so much. . . . The river

courses dirty and deep. Cover the lettuce.

Call it a night. O soul. Flow on. Instead.

(CD Wright's poem appears in Tremble, The Ecco Press)

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