Writers Workshop Profiles: Stanley Plumly

This post is the third in a series that will give a more in-depth biography for each of KR’s Writers Workshop instructors, as well as collect some of the web resources available for each of them. The Writers Workshop is a seven-day intensive writing experience hosted annually by KR on the Kenyon College campus, focused on producing new work. In 2011, the program will run from June 18th-25th. Find more details on the program here.


In an interview with the Boston Review, current Maryland Poet Laureate Stanley Plumly mused, “in poetry there is also a sense of the authentic presence of the person who has had the experience–the purpose of the art of poetry is to authenticate the experience.” Fortunately, Gambier, Ohio and the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop will experience the impressive wit, extensive knowledge, and acclaimed poems of accomplished poet, Stanley Plumly as he serves as an instructor of poetry at this summer’s workshop.

Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio, and he split his youth between small-town communities in Ohio and Virginia. He attended Wilmington College in Ohio for his undergraduate education, and he received an MA from Ohio University, where he also completed work towards a Ph.D. Plumly’s youth in the Midwest has had an important influence on his poetic work, as has his relationship with both his parents. Many of Plumly’s poems specifically address his relationship with his father, who died at the age of 56 from a heart attack brought about by chronic alcoholism. Plumly’s creative work reflects the impact of this event on both the author and his family.

Previous Poet Laureate of the United States and fellow Ohioan Rita Dove called Plumly, “the successor to James Wright and John Keats, with a marvelous ear for the music of contemplation.” Plumly is the author of eight books of poetry: Old Heart (2007), Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New and Selected Poems, 1970 to 2000 (2000), The Marriage in the Trees (1997), Boy on the Step (1989), Summer Celestial (1983), Out-of-the-Body Travel (1977), Giraffe (1973), and In the Outer Dark (1970). Plumly’s poems have also appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, The New York Times, and The Paris Review.

Plumly’s work is not restricted to his own verse. He is also the author of Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (2008) and Argument and Song: Sources and Silences in Poetry (2003). Plumly is the co-editor of 2005’s Search Party: Collected Poems and The New Bread Loaf Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (1999). In addition to these publications, Plumly served as editor of the Ohio Review from 1970-75 and the Iowa Review from 1976-78.

Plumly is currently a Distinguished University Professor of English at University of Maryland College Park. He has also taught at Louisiana State University, Ohio University, Princeton, Columbia, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, and University of Houston. He has received several awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Ingram-Merrill Foundation Fellowship, and three National Endowment for the Arts grants. In 2010, Plumly was awarded the John William Corrington Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, and, across his literary career, he has earned six Pushcart prizes. Additionally, his impressive biography of Keats received a Beall Award in Biography from PEN in 2009. This is by no means an exhaustive list! To get a further orientation to Plumly and his work, listen to “Long Companions,” and consider experiencing Plumly’s companionship and Gambier’s literary community this June.

Read 9 poems available through

Read “Still Missing the Jays” available through the Blackbird Archive

Read 5 poems published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Watch Plumly’s appointment as Maryland’s poet laureate