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April 20, 1966

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Lowell and his wife, critic and essayist Elizabeth Hardwick visited the college. The sixth Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—a title changed in 1984 to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—in 1947-48 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1947 for his collection Lord Weary’s Castle (1946), Lowell acknowledged in his remarks the great influence on him of Elizabeth Bishop ’34. He read and commented on two of her poems, “The Armadillo” and “Visits to St. Elizabeth’s,” before turning to his own work. Bishop, he observed, “never writes a poem just to write a poem.” His reading, said Judy Nadelberg ’69 in The Miscellany News, “was a quiet reading—never overtly emotional—but the subtle shadings and tonings and the slight raising and lowering of his voice over certain words and phrases brought out all the bitterness, joy and anger inherent in the poems.”

Earlier in the day Lowell and Hardwick spoke with reporters from The Miscellany News about both their work and the world. He declined, he said, an invitation to read his work at a White House Arts Festival, in response to “an intuitive moral reason,” his dissaproval of United States policies in Vietnam and Santo Domingo. While he felt that such gestures by the country’s intellectual element “can act as a brake on the government,” “the main thing for me was not going.” “The Lowells,” Betsy Dick ’68 wrote in The Miscellany News, “both felt that the press, especially The New York Times, has been responsible in reporting the Vietnam war. Said Mrs. Lowell, ‘Television is good so far as the pictures are concerned, but there is a certain unreality about television—people are unresponsive. Everyone thinks it is so far away.’ Added Mr. Lowell, who in a recent letter to the White House expressed fears that we are becoming an ‘explosive and suddenly chauvinistic society,’ ‘People think the country can’t be wrong.’”

The Years