Stanley Plumly, Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing program, is a renowned poet. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including In the Outer Dark (1970), winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and Out-of-the-Body Travel (1978), nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other works include Giraffe (1973), Summer Celestial (1983), Boy on the Step (1989), The Marriage in the Trees (1997), and Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New and Selected Poems 1970-2000 (2000), Orphan Hours (2013), and the upcoming Against Sunset, scheduled to be released this fall. His collection Old Heart (2009) won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Paterson Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
He is also the author of Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (2008), a biography of Romantic poet John Keats, which was named runner-up for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Distinguished Biography, and The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner with Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb (2014). The Immortal Evening was awarded the Truman Capote Prize for Arts & Letters from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Plumly’s other works of nonfiction include Argument and Song: Sources and Silences in Poetry (2003).
Plumly’s honors and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ingram-Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a frequent recipient of the Graduate School’s Creative and Performing Arts Awards. Since 2009, he has been Maryland’s poet laureate.
Learn more about Professor Plumly in the interview summarized below:
Why is graduate education important?
For me, graduate school was the beginning of my real education, in that it brought focus to what I really wanted and who I wanted to be, namely a writer, but with the means to support myself as a writer by teaching. Graduate school also meant that I was in the company of people who shared my commitment and vital interest. Where else was I to find other young and starting-out people who read and wrote about what they read with everything at stake? The "social" part cannot be exaggerated. Even monks have company in their solitude.
What key elements have shaped your life and career?
I was in graduate school at a time when the New Critics were still being read and put to use: I learned to read texts by reading them. I also had some first-rate teachers, who were demanding and sympathetic at the same time. I was an English major as an undergrad, and so had been exposed to a tremendous range of literature. Grad school demanded that I make choices with consequences, since that's what finding a discipline is all about. I knew very quickly that this would be my life: teaching as a way to underwrite creative writing. I have had the added luck of loving to teach and being able to teach what I love. I can't think of a better place to be as a transition from four years of undergraduate college to the rest of your life than that rich, good time in graduate school.
Why did you choose Maryland?
I came to Maryland as a full professor in 1985--I think it was the trees that brought me here: the Washington area is the most forested in the nation.