When people first meet Lloyd Schwartz, they often have the uncanny sense that they have met him before. And, in effect, many have: Schwartz is the classical music critic for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and the contributing art critic on WBUR’s ARTery. For decades, in his signature baritone voice, Schwartz has provided listeners with his take on art, theater, dance, classical music, and opera, enhancing public appreciation of art in many ways.
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his criticism and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts for his poetry, Schwartz served as the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, where he directed the creative writing program for many years. In 2019, he became poet laureate of Somerville, and he holds gatherings in which city residents, who are not professional writers, come together and share one of their favorite poems.
Schwartz will visit Worcester State, April 7 to April 9. He will give a talk, “Confessions of a First Generation College Grad,” about his own educational journey, on two occasions: once for English alumni on Tuesday, April 7, at 6 p.m. at the Worcester Art Museum; and a second time for students at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 9, in the Foster Room of the Student Center.
Alumni must register  for the Worcester Art Museum event by March 27. Contact the Alumni Office at 508-929-8141 for more information. Space is limited.
Schwartz will also give a poetry reading, free and open to the public, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, in the Faculty Lounge of the Sullivan Building, S-310. He will also teach a master class in “Art Viewing and Reviewing” to advanced journalism students, using the Early American galleries at the Worcester Art Museum.
Schwartz believes passionately in the importance of the arts in education. “Practically every good thing that has happened to me has happened because of my love of the arts—of poetry, music, dance, and theater.”
Born in Brooklyn to parents who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe, he was the first in his family to attend college, earning a B.A. at Queens College, CCNY and later, on a Woodrow Wilson scholarship, a Ph.D. in literature at Harvard University. It was there that he befriended the acclaimed Worcester poet Elizabeth Bishop, who allowed him to write his dissertation on her poetry. Their friendship extended until her death in 1979, and Schwartz has become one of the more important editors of her work, editing Prose: Elizabeth Bishop (2011) and the Library of America’s Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters (2008).
But Schwartz’s path—to national prizes and the upper echelons of poetry, art criticism, journalism, and scholarship—was not strictly linear. It was full of discovery and reinvention, curiosity and evolving interest. And that is part of Schwartz’s message for Worcester State undergraduates: a career in the arts can take many forms and involve more than one professional direction.
Schwartz’s visit to campus is sponsored by the Lt. Col. James F. Sheehan Honors Program, Judith O’Connell Hoyer (’65), the Marguerite C. McKelligett Fund, the President’s Office, the Worcester Art Museum, and the English Department.
For more information about Schwartz’s poetry reading, master class, and address to students, please contact Leslie Daniels in the English Department (email@example.com; 508-929-8154).
Written by Heather Treseler, Ph.D., associate professor of English, and Presidential Fellow in Art, Education, and Community.