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Library exhibit features Texas poet and scholar

The Mary and John Gray Library is hosting an exhibit featuring the career of Dave Oliphant, a 1963 Lamar graduate, author of 28 books, and an accomplished poet and scholar. The exhibit, titled “South Park and Lamar Nurture Writer: The Education, Life, and Writing Career of Dave Oliphant,” will open in the lobby of the library at 2 p.m. on February 11.

The exhibit opening will include a brief address by Oliphant and includes a display of his memorabilia. Some of the items include his diploma from Lamar, a copy of the first publication of “Pulse”, Lamar’s student literary journal, in which Oliphant was first published, and a manual typewriter Oliphant used to type his early manuscripts.

Born in Fort Worth in 1939, Oliphant’s family eventually settled in Beaumont where he graduated from South Park High School in 1957. He attended then-Lamar State Technical College, earning the Bachelor of Arts in English in 1963. He received his master’s degree in 1966 from the University of Texas at Austin and eventually completed his doctoral studies at Northern Illinois University. Oliphant began his teaching career in 1967, ultimately spending 30 years at the University of Texas as assistant professor, editor of a scholarly journal, and coordinator of the freshman seminar program.

Oliphant began his writing career by penning a sonnet to a prospective girlfriend during his sophomore year at Lamar. Although the young lady did not fall in love, Oliphant did; with writing.  His published works include 28 books, including four books on the history of Texas jazz and three edited anthologies of Texas poetry. He published many translations of poetry by Chilean poets, one for which he was awarded the poetry prize at the 2007 New York Book Festival. Oliphant is also a past winner of the Austin Book Award.

In 1965, while attending UT, he served as editor of the student magazine, Riata.  From that experience, Oliphant was selected to represent the school as part of an exchange program between UT and the University of Chile. It was on that trip to Chile that he met and developed a friendship with world-renowned anti-poet Nicanor Parra. His love of the Hispanic culture blossomed and on his next Chilean trip, a year later, he met and married his wife Maria. His travels also allowed him the opportunity to teach at the University of the Americas in Mexico.

Oliphant’s love of travel will bring him back to Lamar University, where he will reminisce about his time spent playing trumpet with the Technicians, a student band named for Lamar Tech, and his love of Texas jazz.

For more information about the exhibit opening contact Penny Clark at (409) 880-7787.