The Olive Tree
Burton Hatlen, literary scholar, teacher, and friend to many here at UMaine died
on January 21st. A frequent speaker at Fogler Library events and longtime
support of our Library, Hatlen was always generous with his time and continued
to take on new projects, especially if they benefited students or improved the
quality of life in Maine.
Burton Hatlen received a Bachelor of Arts with honors in English from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958; Master of Arts in English, Columbia University, 1959; Master of Arts in English, Harvard University, 1961; and a doctorate in English, The University of California, Davis, 1973. Burton was a professor of English at the University of Maine and came to the University of Maine in 1967, after college teaching in Tennessee and Ohio. He served as chair of the English department, 1985-88; the interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, 1997-98; Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American Studies and American Literature, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, 1988-89. Burton also served as director of the National Poetry Foundation for more than 15 years. Much of the organizationís reputation was built on the publication of two journals which Hatlen edited for many years: Paideuma, dedicated to Ezra Pound and later broadened to include British and American modernism, and Sagetrieb, which Hatlen founded in 1982 to explore the work of objectivist and contemporary poets such as William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky and George Oppen.
The foundationís summer poetry conferences on the Orono campus became renowned in literary circles for collecting erudite scholars and poets to discuss and disseminate their views on the rarefied industry. In addition to lectures and readings, the conferences provided attendees, many of them students, with informal and intimate contact with poets, an approach that mirrored Hatlenís inclusive teaching style and advocacy for varied audiences.
Perhaps Stephen King, a former student and friend of Hatlen, said it best, "He made people ó and not just me ó feel welcome in the company of writers and scholars, and let us know there was a place for us at the table."
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