Kentucky author to be discussed at symposium

Stephanie Toone

The spirit of the nation’s first poet laureate and Kentucky author Robert Penn Warren will be in the air April 27 as people gather for a symposium about him.

Those interested in the author have met annually around Warren’s birthday to discuss his life and works.

The symposium will feature James A. Grimshaw, professor of English at Texas A&M University, who will give a presentation called “Collecting Robert Penn Warren: Confessions of an Errant Bibliographer.”

English professor Mary Ellen Miller is the chair of the advisory group for the Center for the Robert Penn Warren Studies. She said she was excited about Grimshaw’s speech. She said Grimshaw is dedicated to the literary works of Warren, and he has collected Warren’s work for 40 years. He has also written several novels on Robert Penn Warren’s life and literary works.

“You can expect extremely intelligent and scholarly speaking,” Miller said.

In the past, the symposium has gained respect from Western’s faculty. English associate professor Ted Hovet has attended the symposium for the last seven years.

“We’re very excited,” Hovet said. “I know that his speech will be interesting to people interested in American literature.”

English associate professor Lloyd Davies agreed.

“(The symposium speakers) give talks that are interesting to literary scholars,” Davies said.”They also give talks that are accessible to ordinary people.”

Davies said the speakers are usually close friends, associates or family members of Warren. He said he has enjoyed the symposiums for the last 12 years he has been at Western.

“Speakers always give interesting glimpses into Warren’s life that you wouldn’t otherwise know about,” Davies said.

Miller encourages people to attend the symposium.

“I think people will enjoy hearing about Warren,” she said. “What can I say? He’s one of the most famous authors of our time.”

Warren was born in Guthrie on April 24, 1905. He was a poet, critic and fiction writer. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner for his novel “All the King’s Men” (1946) and for his books of poetry “Promises: Poems” (1956) and “Now and Then: Poems” (1978).

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