Book by SLU prof. collects works by American author Willa Cather
Friday, April 5, 2013 - 3:56 pm

CANTON – A new book edited by a St. Lawrence University professor brings poems and newly released personal letters of American author Willa Cather together in one place.

“April Twilights and Other Poems,” edited by Robert Thacker, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Canadian studies and English at St. Lawrence University, was recently published by Knopf as part of the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series.

The letters were selected and edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis P. Stout.

“Editing Cather’s April Twilights and Other Poems for Knopf was a first chance for me to shape her poetry toward the Scholarly Edition of her Poems I am editing for the University of Nebraska Press,” Thacker said. “Owing to various bequests to archives, ‘new’ Cather poems have been turning up, so this volume publishes most of them for the first time and also includes poems published since her death but never included in one of her books. Cather the poet deserves to be better known, so her inclusion in the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet series is both apt and significant.”

The release of Thacker’s book coincides with Knopf’s release of Selected Letters of Willa Cather, co-edited by Jewell and Stout, a book of the famed author’s letters along with historical and biographical context to guide readers through Cather’s life through her own words.

The publisher says, “Before Willa Cather went on to write the novels that would make her famous, she was known as a poet, the most popular of her poems reprinted many times in national magazines and anthologies. Her first book of poetry, April Twilights, was published in 1903, but Cather significantly revised and expanded it in a 1923 edition entitled April Twilights and Other Poems. This Everyman’s Library edition reproduces for the first time all the poems from both versions of April Twilights, along with a number of uncollected and previously unpublished poems by Cather, as well as an illuminating selection of her newly released letters.

Thacker first published his work on Cather in The Great Prairie Fact and Literary Imagination (New Mexico, 1989) and is co-editor of two volumes of Cather Studies: Willa Cather's Canadian and Old World Connections (1999) and Willa Cather: A Writer's Worlds (2010).

He has co-directed three International Cather Seminars and is past-president of the Western Literature Association.

A member of the St. Lawrence faculty since 1983, Thacker is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He earned a master's degree from the University of Waterloo and a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba.

Thacker is the editor of The Rest of the Story: Critical Essays on Alice Munro (1999) and was awarded a grant from the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to support research on the only Munro biography that has ever had the cooperation of the author, Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives, published in 2005 (updated 2011).

Research for the book was also supported by a Molson Fellowship awarded to Thacker.

He was the winner of the Owen D. Young Outstanding Faculty Member award as voted by the senior class in 2002, as well as the J. Calvin Keene Award in 2006.

He served as the first associate dean for academic advising programs from 2006 until 2012.