In Memoriam | Arts News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It
Favorite

In Memoriam 

State of the Arts

On June 13, John Engels of Williston passed away at 76, after a long and distinguished career as a poet and educator. One of his sons, Matt Engels, says his father died as a result of two heart attacks in the aftermath of a back surgery.

A long-time professor at St. Michael's College, Engels never retired; the college recently gave him an award for 45 years of service.

Educated at Notre Dame and the University of Iowa, Engels published in journals such as Harper's and The New Yorker, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and earned support from Guggenheim, Fulbright and Rockefeller fellowships and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1964, after attending a Breadloaf conference - along with Robert Frost - he decided to move to Vermont "because it was so beautiful," Matt Engels says.

In 2006, John Engels spoke with Seven Days about his just-published, 600-page collection of poems, entitled Recounting the Seasons. "It's really strange to pick that thing up and hold it in my hand and see embalmed in there my emotional history, almost 50 years," the poet said. He spoke of his affection for St. Michael's and his students, saying, "I'll try to teach a class or two as long as I can."

Death was a preoccupation in Engels' poetry. But so was life - often embodied by something as simple as the "fat sugary summer green" of a garden, as he wrote in "Eve Considers the Possibility of Resurrection." He evoked beautiful things with gusto, whether they were flowers or the rainbow-hued fishing flies he made as a hobby and displayed in his home. And he described creation as its own reward. "There comes a moment in the process of a poem where you're flooded by silence," Engels said. "Everything is potential. All you know is, there's an energy there waiting to be formulated, to be given a shape."

Info:

A memorial service open to the public will be held at the St. Michael's College Chapel of the Archangel on July 14 at 2 p.m.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It
Favorite

More by Margot Harrison

About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Bio:
Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in Arts News

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation