Occidental Poet Robinson Jeffers Celebrated
The National Endowment for the Arts has announced grants to three California groups for The Big Read: The Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, a celebration of the poet who graduated from Occidental College in 1905, and of Tor House, his self-built family home in Carmel.
The Pennsylvania-born poet is known for his love of the rugged Central Coast.
The Big Read poetry initiative is a joint effort of the NEA and the Poetry Foundation to celebrate historic poetry sites in the United States. The Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation will receive $15,000 to support a month-long, bilingual celebration of Jeffers throughout Monterey County. It is expected to launch in October during Tor House’s annual fall festival. In addition, the National Steinbeck Center will receive $17,000 for an exhibition of Jeffers’ poetry and photographs of the writer. UC Santa Cruz will receive $5,000 to host a symposium on the poet’s work.
The NEA will provide all three sites with its educational and promotional materials--underwritten by the Poetry Foundation--similar to those created for the national Big Read program. These materials, which will also be distributed to local schools, include readers’ and teachers’ guides to Jeffers’ works and a poster.
“I am delighted to partner with the Poetry Foundation to celebrate the great American poet Robinson Jeffers and his deep connection to California and to our nation’s Pacific coast,” NEA Chairman Dana Gioia said. “Jeffers’ hard-edged yet musical poetry continues to challenge and inspire all Americans to greater care and stewardship of our natural resources, and it’s fitting that we announce these grants here in the landscape that he so loved.”
Occidental, home of one of the three major Jeffers collections in the United States (the others are at Yale and the University of Texas, Austin) plans to participate in the Big Read by holding special programs devoted to Jeffers during the upcoming academic year. Since 1937, Occidental has assembled an extensive collection of Jeffers books, galley and page proofs, letters, journals, photographs, manuscripts, critical works relating to the poet, theater programs, and newspaper clippings. The library’s Special Collections department continues to promote and exhibit Jeffers’ works as well as support current research.