CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
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Release: Oct. 11, 2000
Gov. Vilsack declares Oct. 12 Paul Engle Day in Iowa
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A proclamation by Gov. Tom Vilsack designates Thursday,
Oct. 12 as Paul Engle Day in Iowa. The proclamation coincides with the University
of Iowas inauguration of the annual Paul Engle Literary Festival.
Engle, a poet who was a native of Cedar Rapids and an alumnus of Coe College
and the UI, was long-time director of the Iowa Writers Workshop at the
UI and co-founder of the UI International Writing Program (IWP). Oct. 12 was
The proclamation reads:
WHEREAS, IOWA POET PAUL ENGLE BROUGHT THE LITERARY WORLD TO IOWA;
WHEREAS, HE DID MORE FOR THE CAUSE OF WRITERS THAN ANYONE IN HIS TIME;
WHEREAS, HE SHAPED THE IOWA WRITERS WORKSHOP AT THE UNIVERSITY
OF IOWA, BRINGING WRITERS FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. THESE WRITERS IN
TURN "SEEDED THE WORLD" WITH WHAT THEY LEARNED UNDER HIS TUTELAGE;
WHEREAS, HE AND HIS WIFE, HAULING NIEH ENGLE, FOUNDED THE UNIVERSITY
OF IOWA INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM WHICH IN ITS 33 YEARS OF EXISTENCE HAS
BROUGHT NEARLY A THOUSAND WRITERS FROM 115 NATIONS; AND
WHEREAS, THIS PROGRAM IS UNIQUELY RESPONSIVE TO THE WORK AND NEEDS
OF CREATIVE WRITERS AND EACH YEAR CREATES A WORLD-WIDE COMMUNITY OF WRITERS;
WHEREAS, THE WRITERS HE HAS INFLUENCED ARE SHAPERS OF OPINION ACROSS
THE GLOBE, AND THROUGH THEM, IOWA HAS COME TO EXEMPLIFY THE STEADFAST VIRTUES
OF THIS COUNTRY AS WELL AS THE CREATIVE ENERGY GROWING FROM THE HEARTLAND;
WHEREAS, IN RECOGNITION OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR WORK TO INTERNATIONAL
UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNITED STATES, THE AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS NOMINATED
PAUL AND HUALING NIEH ENGLE FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IN 1976; AND
WHEREAS, HE HAS BEEN HAILED AS "THE MOST INFLUENTIAL AMERICAN
WRITER OF THE 20TH CENTURY" FOR HIS SERVICE TO THE LITERARY COMMUNITY;
WHEREAS, THE ENDURING IMPORTANCE OF THE MISSION OF THIS WORK IS RECOGNIZED
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, THOMAS J. VILSACK, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF IOWA,
DO HEREBY PROCLAIM OCTOBER 12, 2000, AS PAUL ENGLE DAY IN IOWA.
* * *
From humble Iowa roots, Paul Engle became one of the worlds leading
cultural figures. Clark Blaise, the Writers Workshop alumnus who directed
the IWP through most of the 90s, described Engle as "the most influential
American writer of the century," for how he transformed the life of the
writer in the United States. "He virtually created the literary community
of America, and he was writers ambassador-at-large to the rest of the
world. . . He made the word Iowa synonymous with writing and turned
Iowa City into the narrative capitol of the world."
At the UI Engle became the first student anywhere to obtain a graduate degree
of the basis of a book of poems. That book, "Worn Earth," won the
1932 Yale Younger Poets award, marking Engle as one of the most promising
poets on the American literary scene. A New York Times review of his second
book hailed him as "a new voice of American poetry."
Soon after he returned to Iowa in from study at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship,
Engle took over the UI graduate seminar in creative writing. Engles
vision, enthusiasm and persistence built that course of study into the Iowa
Writers Workshop, the most prestigious and influential writing program
in the world -- the blueprint for the many creative writing degree programs
that now thrive on U.S. campuses.
In 1966 Engle retired from the Writers Workshop, but the following
year he and his wife, Chinese novelist Hualing Nieh Engle, founded the International
Writing Program, a unique residency program for prominent foreign writers.
In more than 30 years, nearly 1,000 writers from 115 countries have completed
residencies at the UI.
The importance of the IWP to international understanding was recognized in
1976 when the Engles were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 the
program was honored with the Governors Award for distinguished service
to the State of Iowa.
Although Engle devoted most of his energy to the UI writing programs, he
managed to write 20 books, winning Guggenheim, Ford and Rockefeller Foundation
fellowships, and the Lamont Award of the Academy of American Poets.
In1990 Engles career was recognized with the Award for Distinguished
Service to the Arts from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
In 1999 the Iowa magazine "Stand Alone" selected Engle as Iowas
poet of the century.
In response to his death, Philip Roth said, "I think its accurate
to say that with his Writers Workshop that Paul did as much for serious
writing in America as anybody in American history." And Kurt Vonnegut
added, "This man did more for other artists than anybody I can think
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