By Jordan Beach
To write about the New South, Reinhardt’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing students must study the South’s history, and a generous donation of poetry will allow students to explore the region’s past through the eyes of George Scarbrough.
Provost Mark Roberts diligently worked with Becky Mobbs, literary executor of Scarbrough, to allow Reinhardt to acquire the approximately 800 poems and manuscripts that make up the poet’s life’s work.
“Having such a prestigious poet’s life’s work is a remarkable gift to the University,” said Bill Walsh, director of the MFA in Creative Writing program.
Scarbrough is a Tennessee poet and author who wrote of the Southern landscape and those who inhabit it. He has published many poetry collections, including “Tellico Blue,” “The Course Upward,” “Summer So-Called,” “New and Selected Poems,” and Pulitzer Prize nominated “Under the Lemon Tree,” his posthumously published novel. Scarbrough received many accolades for his writing throughout his lifetime. He has been honored with a PEN American Branch Grant, two Carnegie Fund grants, a Borestone Mountain Award, a Fellowship of Southern Writers’ James Still Award for Writing of the Appalachian South and an induction in the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, among many others. “Beginning in 1948, until this death in 2008, George Scarbrough published in the finest literary journals in the country, including 25 times in Poetry,” Walsh said.
Scarbrough’s poetry will enhance Reinhardt’s MFA in Creative Writing program, which spends a great deal of time focusing on writers who were inspired by the South. A one-day symposium dedicated to the life and work of Scarbrough is already in the works, an addition to the June 2020 MFA summer residency curriculum.
With roughly half his works unpublished, Roberts along with Walsh and Drs. Wayne Glowka and Donna Little will take on the task of organizing Scarbrough’s poetry before publishing his never-before-seen works in literary magazines around the country. Scarbrough’s unpublished manuscripts will then be sent to a publisher. The University hopes to honor and bring awareness to the late Southern poet.
“To be the stewards of his poetry, it is a responsibility everyone takes seriously,” said Walsh. “We hope to bring a renewed awareness to such a distinguished writer. I think it is safe to say that all of us involved are focused on promoting this wonderful poet, to bring his life’s work back into the public eye.”