10/13/2004

Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations, (785) 864-8866

KU chancellor to attend dedication honoring KU alumni, poets

LAWRENCE -- University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway will be one of several speakers at a ceremony Saturday, Oct. 16, in Liberal to rename the Liberal High School Library in honor of KU alumni and nationally known poets B.H. "Pete" Fairchild and the late William Stafford.

Both poets spent their boyhoods in Liberal, graduated from the high school and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from KU.

Hemenway will be joined at the dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. in the library by Fairchild, Stafford's son Kim Stafford and ArVel White, LHS head librarian. White had petitioned the USD 480 school board to consider renaming the library. Fairchild and Kim Stafford will read poetry focusing on Liberal and Kansas.

Stafford graduated from Liberal High in 1933, Fairchild in 1960. Stafford earned his bachelor's in 1937 and a graduate degree in 1946 from KU. Fairchild received his bachelor's from KU in 1964 and a graduate degree in 1968.

Stafford, who died in 1993, wrote more than 60 books of poetry and prose. His major collection, "Traveling Through the Dark," won the National Book Award for poetry in 1963. For more than 30 years he taught at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. He also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, the position now known as poet laureate.

Fairchild lives in Claremont, Calif., and teaches English at California State University, San Bernardino. His poetry touches on growing up in Liberal and his father's machine shop. Fairchild's fourth book of poems, "Early Occult Memory Systems of the Midwest," won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2002. W.W. Norton will publish a new edition of his second book of poems, "Local Knowledge," in fall 2005.

Hemenway, who teaches a literature course most semesters at KU, is known for his biography of African-American novelist Zora Neale Hurston, a "Best Books" pick by the New York Times in 1978 and a Quality Paperback Book Club selection in 1991.

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