Alan Austin (1940-2009)

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Alan Austin (1940-2009) was a poet and the founder and executive director of the Watershed Foundation in Washington DC, which produced recordings and public radio programs about modern American poetry. Some of the titles of his own poems were “Punctuation,” “Home Movies,” “Eating Ground Zero,” “Prompter’s Text,” the numbered series of seven poems called “Chance 1” and etc, “Red Blanket Case,” “Public Service Announcement,” and “Another Chance.” His poetry had a strong sense of exploration of the human mind, behavior, dreams, and relationships. Austin used rhythmic words and a tone that seemed cuttingly insightful. His poem “Red Blanket Case” was about the grief he felt after the death of his infant son. He believed that the best way to encounter poetry is by hearing it read out loud by the poet. He also wanted to bring different kinds of arts together. With this in mind, Watershed developed Black Box, an audio literary magazine, which Austin co-edited. Prior to founding Watershed, Austin served as literary editor of motive, a magazine in support of the Methodist Student Movement. He has also edited more than 12 books. AND Alan Austin tape from the Grace Cavalieri Collection at the GWU Gelman Library.

written by Word Works intern Monica Root, September 2013

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