Symposium Issue 

October 2000




R. S. Gwynn









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R. S. Gwynn was born in Eden, North Carolina, in 1948. He attended Davidson College, where he played football, twice won the Vereen Bell Award for creative writing, and served as a member of Davidson’s championship team on the General Electric College Bowl. After receiving his B.A. in 1969, he did graduate work at the Breadloaf School of English and entered graduate school at the University of Arkansas, earning the M.A. in 1972 and the M.F.A. in 1973. While a student at Arkansas, he received the John Gould Fletcher Award for Poetry.

In 1973, Gwynn began his teaching career as an instructor of English at Southwest Texas State University. In 1976 he moved to Beaumont, Texas, to teach at Lamar University. In 1997 he was named University Professor, Lamar’s highest academic rank, and he has also been recognized as an outstanding teacher by Phi Kappa Phi, the national academic honor society, and as an outstanding scholar by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Gwynn began publishing while an undergraduate, with poetry, fiction, and translations appearing in the New England Review and the Sewanee Review. His first collection of poetry, Bearing & Distance, appeared from Cedar Rock Press in 1977 and was followed by The Narcissiad, a satirical poem, in 1982. His book of poems The Drive-In won the Breakthrough Award from the University of Missouri Press in 1986. No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000 will appear from Story Line Press in 2000. His poems appear in a number of anthologies and textbooks, including The Made Thing: Contemporary Southern Poetry, Sound and Sense, Western Wind, Rebel Angels: Twenty-five Poets of the New Formalism, and The Book of Forms.

Gwynn’s criticism of contemporary poetry began to appear in little magazines in the mid-1970s. Since then he has been a regular contributor of reviews to the Sewanee Review and the Hudson Review. For five years beginning in 1987 he wrote “The Year in Poetry” for the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, and he later edited two volumes of the DLB on contemporary American poetry. He has also edited The Advocates of Poetry: A Reader of American Poet-Critics of the Modernist Era, New Expansive Poetry: Theory, Criticism, History, and anthologies of poetry and fiction for the Longman Pocket Anthology series. He is currently working on a volume of his selected criticism.

Gwynn has lectured and given poetry readings at over one hundred universities. He has been a faculty member at the Antioch Writers Conference and the West Chester University Poetry Conference, teaching classes in poetic meter and form, the sonnet, and the dramatic monologue.

He lives in Beaumont, Texas, with his wife, Donna. They have three sons and one grandchild.



  R. S. Gwynn



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