Professor Emeritus Stephen Dunn started teaching at Richard Stockton College in 1974. Now what he called semi-retired, he still teaches at the college every spring and still writes poetry.
Dunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who has published more than a dozen collections of works, read his work on Sunday at Seaview Resort for the final event of this year's Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway, held in Galloway for the first time in its 19 years.
A manuscript exhibit at the Noyes Museum in the Seaview Resort was opened on Friday, the first day of the getaway, and will be open until March 10. The exhibit includes commentary on his works, a short film, examples of Dunn's revision process and some of his completed works.
Provost and Executive Vice President of Stockton College Harvey Kesselman praised both Dunn and the exhibit.
"Obviously, Stockton has a great commitment to the liberal arts," he said. "Dunn reflects the very best of that."
Peter Murphy, the organizer of the writer's getaway and himself a poet, introduced Dunn before the reading, saying he first met Dunn as a student at Stockton in 1974.
After meeting Dunn, Murphy became an educator and writer himself, and they now teach a class together at Stockton.
"Stephen taught me that what matters most is not the appearance of being a poet, but that I work hard to write the best poems possible," Murphy said. "He taught me to take my writing, but not my self, too seriously."
Dunn's sense of humor was on display, and laughter could be heard after many of his readings at the packed Presidential Ballroom at Seaview Resort.
After one particularly strong crowd reaction, Dunn said, "I'll read another shameless one, since you all seem to like that...this might be the silliest thing I've ever written."
He proceeded to read one the funniest poems of the night, then followed it up with one of his most serious. He read love poems about his wife, a poem about being a grandfather, and one about being a son, among many others.
He received a standing ovation after his last poem.
For more information about Dunn and his work, see his biography on Poets.org.