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1987 article on the U-Arkansas Creative Writing Program

Northwest Arkansas Times article from 1987


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January 20, 2004 in Articles | Permalink


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I was a student in the MFA fiction workshops from 1983 to 1987, and it was Jim Whitehead who met me at the tiny Fayetteville airport, Jim Whitehead who took me home to meet his family, Jim's wife who introduced me to Wal-Mart and helped me furnish the little one bedroom apt across from the Razorback bookstore with inexpensive plates and bowls and such stuff. It was Jim Whitehead who simultaneously entranced and terrified us with the wonder and beauty of the written word, calling shit shit and genius genius, and expressing the appropriate reverence for those few moments when art approaches the holy. It was Jim Whitehead who spent tireless weekends sending us to every corner of the state through Poetry in the Schools, Jim who passed on the tribal feel of the craft, Jim who easily qualified as the beating heart of the program. He was moody, direct, awe-inspiring, noble, and as close to the human equivalent of a volcano as I ever hope to meet. I learned he passed last weekend, and thought about writing to somebody, maybe Mrs. Whitehead, to pay tribute. In an academic career filled with more than my fair share of stumbling into greatness in the hallway, his memory looms like an Old Testament prophet. I am blessed and lucky to have known him. Thanks for the chance to say so.

Bill Coffman.

Posted by: Bill Coffman | Feb 19, 2004 6:36:54 PM

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