Reed Whittemore

9 April 2012
Reed Whittemore
Reed Whittemore

Edward Reed Whittemore II passed away on Friday, April 6th after a long illness. He was 92. Reed taught at Carleton in the English department, from 1947 to 1969. He founded “The ¬≠Carleton Miscellany,” a nationally acclaimed literary magazine published quarterly at Carleton from 1960-1980.  

After leaving Carleton, Reed taught at the University of Maryland through the 80s, and served as literary editor of “The New Republic” (1969-1973). He was twice the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, now called U.S. Poet Laureate, as well as the Poet Laureate of Maryland. Among his 11 collections of poetry, “The Mother’s Breast and the Father’s House” (1974) was nominated for a National Book Award. He also published 9 works of prose, including 2007’s, Against the Grain: The Literary Life of a Poet, a memoir in which Reed writes of himself, R, from a unique third-person point of view.

Reed leaves behind his wife, Helen, 3 children, and 6 grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, 4835 MacArthur Blvd N.W., Washington, DC 20007. Please keep all of his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. 

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  • 2012-05-11 13:20:34
    Nancy Adams-Cogan (Bumble)

    Reed Whittemore taught me to enjoy poetry, especially 20th century additions to rolls of the canon. He allowed great wideness in choice and in writing. It took 30 years for me to attempt poetry composition myself and once begun, I have continued to write and share often in groups, readings and a few chapbooks. I wrote to thank him. His R autobiography, given to my by Davy Colwell, provided much pleasure and opened new understanding of the genres he helped to create and publish. And reading his poems in public (sometimes at reunions) is always fruitful.

  • 2012-05-11 14:41:12
    Richard Musty

    Reed was a great Professor. I will remember him forever!

  • 2012-05-11 16:26:15
    Lawrie Cherniack

    Mr. Whittemore taught the first class I ever went to at Carleton, when I visited Carleton to see if I wanted to go there and dropped in on his class.  He was teaching Winesburg, Ohio, and he made such a great impression on me that I wanted to attend Carleton.  My memory is that while I attended Carleton he taught few if any courses, although the Miscellany made a huge impression on me.  He will be missed.

  • 2012-05-11 16:50:51
    Judith Besancon

    I was lucky to take more than one course from Reed while at Carleton in the late 50's.  Thanks Reed for inspirational teaching and for your literary contributions to Carleton. 

  • 2012-05-12 20:28:37
    Jim Miller'59

    I appreciated Reed for perhaps a different reason.  He realized I did not enjoy taking his required course and that I had no interest in poetry, such as Chaucer.  Yet he also knew I worked hard and completed all assignments.  I say: Thanks Reed for accepting me and your tolerance.  J. Miller, M.D.

  • 2012-05-30 17:41:24
    Carolann (Bingham) Purcell, '54

    Reed Whittemore taught the Shakespeare class to our delight when he acted out the parts.  I think he assigned most of the plays, as well as the poems!  Great teacher, among the many at Carleton.