Noted Texas poet, author, and educator Wendy Bean Barker died March 11 in San Antonio at age 80. She was the author of eight poetry books, six poetry chapbooks, and one novel. She was also the Pearl LeWinn Endowed Chair in creative writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), as well as UTSA’s poet in residence since 2007.
Born in Summit, New Jersey, Wendy Barker received her doctor of philosophy in 1981 from the University of California-Davis and began teaching in UTSA’s English department in 1982. She founded both UTSA’s creative writing program and its Creative Writing Reading Series that has brought many well-known writers to the UTSA campus.
Her novel, Nothing Between Us: The Berkeley Years, was written in poetic style, and she authored a scholarly study, Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor.
Her most recent book, Weave: New and Selected Poems, (BkMk Press, 2022), was preceded by seven full-length collections of poetry, including Gloss, published by Saint Julian Press in 2020. Her collection One Blackbird at a Time received the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and was published by BkMk Press in 2015. Her sixth poetry chapbook, Those Roads, These Moons, will be published this spring by Alabrava Press.
Wendy Barker’s poems and translations have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Poetry, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, Plume, Rattle, The American Scholar, The Kenyon Review, Nimrod, Stand, Partisan Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, New Letters, Antioch, and Southern Poetry Review.
In a 2016 interview for the campus publication UTSA Today, she described the origins of her deep love for poetry. “When I was a schoolgirl, my father would stand up in the living room and read aloud from his old, battered poetry anthology from high school,” Barker said. “I would sit transfixed. I was so moved. He would never quiz me. He would just stop and say, ‘Isn’t that beautiful?’”
Survivors include her husband, Steven G. Kellman, a biographer, poet, and comparative literature professor in UTSA’s English department, and a son, David Barker.
Memorial information is available here.
[Note: Cause of death was not announced.]