The Thornton Endowment brings established writers to campus each semester — novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, essayists, and others. Over a day or two, these visiting writers do a public reading or lecture, and oftentimes they meet with creative writing students for classes or workshops. The visits complement the English Department’s writing courses, which include Introduction to Creative Writing, Fiction Writing, Poetry Writing, and Writing in the Workplace, all of which are taught by University of Lynchburg faculty who are writers as well as teachers.
Richard H. Thornton
Dr. Richard H. Thornton, a 1907 alumnus of Virginia Christian College — now the University of Lynchburg — was a distinguished teacher, writer, and publisher. He became president of Henry Holt and Company publishers and established friendships with such writers as Carl Sandburg, Thomas Wolfe, and Vachel Lindsay. He was both editor of and friend to Robert Frost.
Since 1975, the endowment established in his name has enabled Lynchburg to bring exciting and successful poets, novelists, dramatists, and nonfiction writers to campus. These writers have taught classes, given public readings, and enriched the cultural lives of students, faculty, and other members of the community.
Former Thornton Writer named new U.S. Poet Laureate
Joy Harjo has been named to be the twenty-third United States Poet Laureate—and the first Native American to hold that position. The Thornton Endowment brought Harjo to campus in November of 2016 for a reading that was enthusiastically received. Professor Jeremy Bryant recalls that visit, “Harjo’s evening at the University of Lynchburg was one full of music, poetry, and storytelling. Harjo selflessly gave of herself, weaving her spoken word with the beautiful sound of her sax. For a wonderful moment in time, we, the audience, connected with the poet, and together we explored what it means to be human.”
Professor Laura Marello speaks of Harjo’s generosity in spending time with our creative writing students. And she adds, “since I have loved her poetry for decades, I felt honored to have her at UL and thrilled the students could speak with her and hear her read. Now, knowing she has been named Poet Laureate, I am also thrilled to know our UL students have met a U.S. Poet Laureate.”
We send our congratulations to Joy Harjo.
Jer Bryant ’03, ’10 MA, MFA
Assistant Professor of English
Richard H. Thornton Chair
Director of the Wilmer Writing Center