The Scholar & the Poet
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YENSER IS A UCLA PROFESSOR of English and director of the undergraduate
Creative Writing Program. His own work has won him national and
international recognition the Walt Whitman Award from the
Academy of American Poets for his 1993 collection The Fire in
All Things and the B.F. Connors Prize for Poetry from the Paris
Review and has been included in two volumes of The
Best American Poems series. His poetry and essays have been
published in the Partisan Review, Poetry, The Nation,
The New Yorker and The Yale Review, and he regularly is a judge
in poetry competitions ranging from the University of California's
Poet Laureate Prize to the Pulitzer. As curator of the UCLA Hammer
Museum Poetry Series, Yenser has brought some of the nation's most
influential poets to campus U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky,
Pulitzer Prize-winner Jorie Graham and Bollingen Prize-winner Anthony
Hecht have appeared and the series is considered to be one
of the West's premiere forums for poetry.
his career, Yenser has established himself as a trustworthy ambassador
from a literary realm that strikes many readers as remote and impenetrable.
"In his generation, Stephen has emerged as the best critic
of contemporary poetry in the nation," says J.D. McClatchy,
editor of The Yale Review.
also has emerged as a gifted teacher, earning the respect and accolades
of colleagues and students alike who praise him for his modest,
self-effacing style, sterling credentials and genuine warmth and
desire to nurture young talent a characteristic born, perhaps,
from that first meeting with Merrill.
treated me like a fellow poet from our first interaction,"
recalls Maggi Michele, a Ph.D. candidate who first took a course
from Yenser while an undergraduate. "It was like, 'I'm a poet,
and you're a poet. Why are we just standing here? We should get
to work.' "
English Department Chair Thomas Wortham: "I sometimes want
to walk behind him and put a sign on him that says 'Great Poet.'