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Maine Writers Index - Detail   (Return to List)

Lewis Putnam Turco (1934 - )

Image of Lewis Putnam Turco
Lewis Putnam Turco
(1934 - )
Genre: Non-Fiction - Scholarly, Non-Fiction, Poetry

Lew Turco (also uses pseudonym of Wesli Court) -- prolific and internationally known poet, essayist, and literary critic -- is a long-time summer resident of Dresden, Maine, and since 1996 has lived there year-round, operating an online used book store called Mathom Bookshop until it closed in Dec. 2006; the name was taken from a JRR Tolkien word meaning 'useless treasures,' things for which there is no earthly use but that we still can't bring ourselves to throw away. He's got a detailed essay on his weblog titled 'How I Got Into Books.'

Turco was born on 2 May 1934 in Buffalo, NY, served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1956, and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1959, whose alumni association honored him with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1992. He earned his M.A. from the University of Iowa in 1962, which has a collection of some of Turco's papers. He is Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY in Oswego, NY, where he founded the Program in Writing Arts; he was also founding director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Turco has won many awards, including the 1986 Melville Cane Award of the Poetry Society of America, the 1990 Cooper House Chapbook Prize from Poet magazine, the first annual Bordighera Bilingual Poetry Prize (with Italian translator Joseph Alessia) in 1997 for his A Book of Fears, the 1999 John Ciardi Award for lifetime achievement in poetry, and an honorary degree in Humane Letters from Ashland University in Ohio in 2000. He was also inducted into the Meriden, Connecticut, Hall of Fame in 1993. Much more about Turco at his website and his weblog 'About Me' page. He's also listed at Wikipedia.

Works written under his own name include:

  • Day after History: A Selection of Poems (1956)
  • First Poems (1960)
  • Sketches [poems] and Livevil: A Mask (1962)
  • Awaken, Bells, Falling: Poems 1959-1967 (1968)
  • The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics (1968/2000)
  • The Inhabitant (1970)
  • The Literature of New York: A selective bibliography of colonial and native New York State authors (1970)
  • Creative Writing in Poetry (1970)
  • Pocoangelini: A Fantography and Other Poems (1971)
  • The Weed Garden: Poems (1973)
  • Poetry: An Introduction Through Writing (1973)
  • Freshman Composition and Literature (1974)
  • A Cage of Creatures: Poems (1978)
  • Seasons of the Blood: Poems (1980)
  • American Still Lifes: Poems (1981)
  • The Compleat Melancholick: Being a Sequence of 'Found, Composite, and Composed' Poems, based largely upon Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy (1985)
  • Visions And Revisions Of American Poetry (1986)
  • A Maze of Monsters (1986; illus. Louise Dickinson)
  • The New Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics (1986)
  • The Fog: Chamber Opera in One Act (1987; with composer Walter Hekster)
  • The Shifting Web: New & Selected Poems (1989)
  • Dialogue: A Socratic Dialogue on the Art of Writing Dialogue in Fiction (1989/1999)
  • A Family Album: Poems (1990)
  • The Public Poet: Five Lectures on the Art and Craft of Poetry (1991), in the Writers-In-Residence Series
  • Murmurs in the Walls (1992)
  • Legends of the Mists (1993)
  • Emily Dickinson, Woman of Letters: Poems and Centos from Lines in Emily Dickinson's Letters (1993)
  • How to Write a Million 1995
  • Bordello: PoemPrints (1996; with printmaker George O'Connell)
  • Shaking the Family Tree: A Remembrance (1998), a book of family memoirs tracing Turco's life as the son of a Methodist missionary who worked among Italian immigrants between the two World Wars
  • A Book of Fears (1998; translated into Italian by Joseph Alessia)
  • The Life and Poetry of Manoah Bodman, Bard of the Berkshires (1999; edited and with introduction by Turco)
  • The Book of Literary Terms: The Genres of Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction, Literary Criticism and Scholarship (1999)
  • The Green Maces of Autumn: Voices in an Old Maine House (2002), a poetry collection
  • The Book of Dialogue: How to Write Effective Conversation in Fiction, Screenplays, Drama, and Poetry (2004)
  • A Sheaf of Leaves: Literary Memoirs (2004)
  • The Collected Lyrics of Wesli Court, 1953-2004 (2004)
  • Fantaseers, A Book of Memories (2005)
  • The Museum of Ordinary People and Other Stories (2007)
  • Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco (2007)

The following books were published under the pseudonym Wesli Court:

  • The Airs of Wales (1981)
  • Murgatroyd and Mabel (1978)
  • Courses in Lambents: Poems (1977; ink drawings by Bob Sullins)
  • Curses and Laments (1978)

Turco also edited That Band from Indiana, written by Charlie Davis (Mathom Pub. Co., 1982).

Turco's 1998 poem 'Blues for George Gershwin,' is available online through The Blue Moon Review. His terzanelle 'Terzanelle in Thunderweather' (scroll down to second poem) is also online, and his pantoum 'The Eunuch Cat' (scroll down 2/3 of the page).

Last Update: 06/03/2007

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