William & Mary

Poet, scholar Robert Mezey to appear here on Oct. 6

Robert Mezey, whose poetry has been hailed as “perfection,” and “tender, fierce, obsessive,” will read from his works on Thursday, Oct. 6, 7-8:30 p.m. in the gallery of the Muscarelle Museum of Art.

Mezey’s appearance is part of the Patrick Hayes Writers Series for 2011-12. It is free and open to the public, and will include a reception.

Mezey will also discuss and read selected works from his friend and former colleague Virginia Hamilton Adair. Mezey assisted Adair, a former part-time instructor at William & Mary, in getting her first book of poetry published in 1996 when she was 83 and blind. Her first collection, “Ants on the Melon: A Collection of Poems,” met with much acclaim.

Mezey’s poems, prose, and translations have been appearing since 1953 in many journals, including New York Review of Books, Hudson Review, The New Republic, Raritan, Kenyon Review, Partisan Review, Grand Street, Yale Review, The New Yorker, Harper's, Paris Review, and American Poetry Review, among others.

Some of his poems have been translated and published in Bosnia, Spain, Italy, Israel, Japan and Greece.

His books of verse include “The Lovemaker,” “White Blossoms,” “A Book of Dying,” and “The Mercy of Sorrow.”

Educated at Kenyon, Iowa, and Stanford, from 1976-99 Mezey was professor and poet-in-residence at Pomona College, and taught at the Claremont Graduate School.

His awards include the Robert Frost Prize; the Lamont (for “The Lovemaker”); fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation and from the National Endowment for the Arts; and an honorary doctorate from the World Congress of Poets.

Among his reviews:

“Mezey has labored to master the craft of the English language long and deep. Now the fury and anguish of his person have fused with his always wild imagination to produce that almost impossible thing: a poetry that is fierce just because it is so full of love and kindness.” – poet James Wright

“Robert Mezey is one of the poets we cannot afford to neglect ... He is a master of his craft: the poems show his relentless pursuit of the perfection he desires. Doubtless, he would never admit to achieving it, but as a devoted reader of his work I have the right to feel he does, and very frequently too.” – poet and critic Ralph J. Mills, Jr.

“What I look for – hope for – in poems, and what I find in Robert Mezey's new work is the effort to bring into words that ultimate tenderness toward existence which is the dream of great poems.” – poet Galway Kinnell

“Robert Mezey has long been one of my favorite poets. Some of these new poems are absolute classics of calm and beauty.” – poet Donald Justice