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CELESTE T. WRIGHT - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 01/25/1979 - HFSID 206138

Wright typed, dated and signed this letter to John Norbutt on University of California, Davis letterhead in 1979, the year that she retired from the school. She congratulates him for teaching poetry to poor city kids and answered his question about what makes a poem "'lastingly important'".

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CELESTE WRIGHT
Wright typed, dated and signed this letter to John Norbutt on University of California, Davis letterhead in 1979, the year that she retired from the school. She congratulates him for teaching poetry to poor city kids and answered his question about what makes a poem "'lastingly important'".
Typed letter signed "Celeste Wright". With numerous corrections and black ink edits in unknown hand. 1 page, 8½x11, on University of California, Davis Department of English letterhead. Jan. 25, 1979. Addressed to "John Norbutt". The first few lines of this letter a little shaky. "(You'll find my typing bad," she typed. "I am learning the electrical machine.)" Norbutt was apparently teaching poor city kids, possibly in juvie hall, about poetry, including Wright's. She congratulated him for it: "You are evidently doing magnificent work rehabilitating the young people in the ghetto you mention. To get them interested in poetry is an achievement. Encourage them to write. Who can say which of them may be potentially a poet?" She also answered Norbutt's question about what makes a poem "'lastingly important'": "Good poetry has appeal for at least a large number of readers, and it is not confined to the interests of the period in which it is written. We enjoy Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES because the pilgrims described in the Prologue are like men and women of today, though they lived six hundred years ago. Like the characters in Shakespeare's plays, they come alive for us... I often compare it to an electrical short-circuit." Wright (1906-1999, born in New Brunswick, Canada) was a long-time member of the faculty at the University of California's Davis campus. She joined the faculty in 1928, when the school was the called the University of California's University Farm annex, and she remained a member until her retirement in 1979, over five decades later. When Wright joined the faculty, the school had 350 students, only eight of whom were women, and the English department had only two faculty members, including her. When she retired, the school had 20,000 students, and the English department 20 professors. During that time, she founded the the school's English division and became the first woman to gain tenure at UC Davis and the first woman with a PH. D. to become a faculty member, as well as the school's first teacher of Latin, German and public speaking and first drama instructor. She was also the first woman to have a campus building named after her in 1997, when Davis Dramatic Arts Building was renamed Celeste Turner Wright Hall in her honor. To supplement her salary early in her career, she edited agricultural publications and became a highly skilled editor, often editing the essays of other faculty. She also published three volumes of poetry: Etruscan Princess and Other Poems (1964), A Sense of Place (1973), and Seasoned Timber (1977). Interestingly, Wright was born only two years before the University Farm annex opened for business in 1908. Lightly toned, creased and rippled. Light tear near lower left corner. Top edge is dented. Folded once horizontally and twice vertically. Otherwise in fine condition.
 

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