The Columns

Ward Briggs ’67 to Address W&L’s Friends of the Library Annual Meeting

— by on April 21st, 2017

“James Dickey believed that poems were made of many elements. If you ask him if he works from experience, a real poet would have to say that you must define experience, because experience is anything and everything that has ever impinged on your imagination.”

Ward W. Briggs ’67, the Carolina Distinguished Professor of Classics and Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Humanities, emeritus, at the University of South Carolina, will be the speaker at the annual meeting of Washington and Lee University’s Friends of the Library on May 13 at 1:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

Briggs will speak on “James Dickey and ‘Life’: How Poems Are Made.” The talk is free and open to the public.

“James Dickey believed that poems were made of many elements. If you ask him if he works from experience, a real poet would have to say that you must define experience, because experience is anything and everything that has ever impinged on your imagination,” Briggs said. “This talk will focus on how the poet gathers impressions from a variety of sources—literary, artistic, musical and especially photographic (three at least from Life magazine) in three of James Dickey’s greatest poems.”

Ward W. Briggs

Briggs, a member of the Class of 1967 at W&L, retired from the University of South Carolina in 2011 but continues to teach in the Honors College there. His research interests are Virgil, Roman poetry and the history of American classical scholarship.

He edited the journal Vergilius for 10 years and is the author or editor of 10 books and numerous articles and reviews. He was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, and is working on a biography of Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, the founder of the modern American study of classical antiquity.

Briggs received his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After Briggs met Dickey in 1963 at W&L, they began a multi-decade relationship, and after Dickey’s death, Briggs began his large collection of Dickey materials which he gave to W&L in 2014. The donation consisted of first-edition novels and poetry to film posters from “Deliverance,” the movie based on Dickey’s 1970 novel. The Dickey collection also includes copies of foreign language versions of “Deliverance.”