WILLIAM MATTHEWS Biography - Famous Poets and dancers


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William Matthews                                                                     
Born: November 11, 1942                                                               
Died: November 12, 1997                                                               
"Life happens to us whether we have the good sense to be interested in the way       
it happens to us or not. That's what it means to be alive."                           
William Matthews' connection to Ohio was that he was born here, in Cincinnati.       
Unfortunately, little is published about his personal life until young adulthood     
-- perhaps because Matthews has purposely avoided the topic in most of his           
writings: "I'm not a particularly autobiographical poet…I am to some extent           
bored by the story of my own life."                                                   
Matthews earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a master's from the     
University of North Carolina. He began publishing books of poetry in 1970, at         
the age of twenty-eight (Ruining the New Road), and continued through 1996's         
Time & Money, which "won the National Book Critics Circle Awards and was a           
finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize."                                       
Matthews supplemented his poet's income by teaching and visiting at numerous         
schools and universities throughout the country: Cornell University in Ithaca,       
New York; the University of Colorado in Boulder; the University of Iowa; the         
University of Houston; and the University of Washington in Seattle. Matthews         
also served as writer-in-residence at Emerson College in Boston.                     
He also received four different fellowships during his distinguished career,         
from "the Guggenheim and Ingram Merrill foundations, the National Endowment for       
the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund." In his last year of life,       
Matthews was awarded the $75,000 Ruth Lilly Prize for his poetry.                     
William Matthews learned more than he wanted to know about the business side of       
the arts while serving as chair of the Literature Panel of the National               
Endowment for the Arts. "The poetry world is very unfair," he said after his         
experience there. "There are many talented people who have never been, and will       
never be, sufficiently rewarded for the value of the work they have done."           
In 1997, William Matthews died suddenly of a heart attack just one day after his     
fifty-fifth birthday.                                                                 
If to die is to lose                                                                 
All detail, then death is not                                                         
So distinguished, but a profusion                                                     
Of detail, a last gossip, character                                                   
Passed wholly into fate and fate                                                     
In flecks, like dust, like flour, like snow.                                         
(excerpt from the poem "Spring Snow," William Matthews)                               
At the time of his death, Matthews was an English professor and director of the       
creative writing program at New York's City College. He had published eleven         
books of poetry and one book of essays.