[Note: the outstanding Southern scholar Mark Winchell would have been 75 on July 24, if he had not been taken away at the too-early age of 60.]

In memory of Mark Royden Winchell (1948-2008), author of biographies of Donald Davidson and Cleanth Brooks

He sits amid the facts he’s gathered in
From interviews, books, archives, scattered prose
Mastered at last so recollection’s pen
Can resurrect the dead by what he knows.

He minds the many pitfalls of his art,
Wary of how some storytellers err
In idolizing, tearing men apart,
Iconoclast or hagiographer.

He must engage, yet shuns the quick surmise,
With passion for those cool exactitudes
He isolates from hearsay, myths, and lies,
Tactful and tentative as he intrudes.

And when the work of long hard years is done
As chapters of his life in holograph,
He’ll rest with each dead man whose race he’s run,
Their hours enshrined in timeless epitaph.

(Originally published in Modern Age,  Fall 2008)

(David Middleton’s verse salutes the work of the late Professor Mark Winchell, whose biographies of two of the most important  Southern literary figures  of the 20th century, Donald Davidson and Cleanth Brooks, are models of scholarship.  Although born in Ohio, Mark Winchell was a true blue Southerner as well as an outstanding and prolific scholar and essayist as Professor of English at Clemson University.  Winchell’s 16 books include Reinventing the South; God, Man, and Hollywood, and the coauthored Herman Talmadge memoirs.  His last, posthumously published book is Confessions of a Copperhead:  Cullture and Politics in the Modern South (Shotwell Publishing, 2022).

David Middleton

Until his retirement in June of 2010, David Middleton served for 33 years as Professor of English at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. In April 2006 Middleton won The Allen Tate Award for best verse published in The Sewanee Review for 2005. In November 2006 Middleton won the State of Louisiana Governor’s Award for Outstanding Professional Artist for 2006. Middleton’s books of verse include The Burning Fields (LSU Press, 1991), As Far as Light Remains (The Cummington Press [Harry Duncan], 1993), Beyond the Chandeleurs (LSU Press, 1999), and The Habitual Peacefulness of Gruchy: Poems After Pictures by Jean-François Millet (LSU Press, 2005). Middleton’s newest collection, The Fiddler of Driskill Hill: Poems (poems of Louisiana North and South) was published by LSU Press in the fall of 2013.


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