Queer Places:
6 Gloucester Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930
Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002
Yale University (Ivy League), 38 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06520
Harvard University (Ivy League), 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Rutgers University, 77 Hamilton St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

William Richard Poirier (September 9, 1925 - August 15, 2009) was born in Gloucester, Mass., where his father was a fisherman. After high school, where an English teacher had nurtured his interest in reading, he joined the Army and served in Europe during World War II. At Amherst College in Massachusetts, he became acquainted with Frost, who gave readings each semester and talked to English majors about poetry. Poirier received a bachelor's degree from Amherst in 1949, a master's degree from Yale University in 1951 and his doctorate from Harvard University in 1959, all in English. He taught at Williams College and Harvard before joining the Rutgers faculty in 1963.

Richard Poirier taught English for many years at Rutgers University, where in 1981 he founded Raritan: A Quarterly Review , a journal of literary criticism and cultural commentary. Writers published in Raritan include poets John Ashbery and Richard Howard, the Palestinian American writer Edward Said, critic Harold Bloom and feminist writer Camille Paglia. He wrote books, essays, articles and reviews about America's most perceptive writers and thinkers -- Henry James, Robert Frost and Norman Mailer, among others -- but he also explored such cultural phenomena as the American invasion of the Beatles. In "Learning From the Beatles," an essay originally published in Partisan Review in 1967, Poirier was one of the first commentators to argue that the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" represented an intermingling of pop and "serious" cultures that deserved close critical attention. He also wrote about the impact of Vietnam on the culture and the significance of the 1960s revolution, and he once compared Bette Midler's command of parody to that of the writers Mailer, Ralph Ginzburg and Thomas Pynchon. In a 1968 essay in the Atlantic Monthly, he argued that the nation was at war with its restive young.

Poirier was a major force behind the Library of America, the ambitious ongoing effort to publish the works of the greatest writers America has produced. With grants from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the nonprofit venture began publishing in May 1982, with works by Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Walt Whitman. Poirier joined the project in its planning stages in 1977 and served on its board of directors until 2006, when he stepped down as chairman.

His partner John Wilson, an assistant to the science editor of The New York Times and a founding member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, had a heart attack or a stroke and died in 2006. Richard Poirier suffered injuries in a fall at his home in New York City, and died at Roosevelt Hospital in New York, aged 83.

My published books:

See my published books