Porter began donating her collection of rare books, art, and antique furnishings to WTAMU more than twenty years ago, leading to the establishment of the Texas Poets’ Corner in 2003.
West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) officials announced a $2.8 million gift from the estate of the late Dr. Jenny Lind Porter Scott, a former Texas poet laureate and WTAMU assistant professor of English. The gift will endow three professorships and a scholarship fund, as well as expand the holdings and programs of Cornette Library’s Texas Poets’ Corner.
Porter, who published her first poem at age fourteen, served as Texas poet laureate in 1964 and 1965, was the author of several collections and books, and was named to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1985.
“Jenny Lind Porter valued literacy. This is a fundamental concept that is deeply appreciated and valued by all here at WT,” University President Dr. Walter Wendler said at the announcement. “In the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World, we have made a commitment to provide distinctive academic resources and programs to students. The Texas Poets’ Corner does just that.”
“Jenny Lind’s vision for the Texas Poets’ Corner and its mission is to be a place that will expose the students of WTAMU to fine poetry, literature, music, and art, as well as Texas history through lectures and performances,” Shawna Kennedy-Witthar, Cornette Library’s director of information and library resources, said.
Porter began donating her collection of rare books, art, and antique furnishings to WTAMU more than twenty years ago, leading to the establishment of the Texas Poets’ Corner in 2003. At the core of the collections are approximately 1,800 rare books, numerous pieces of furniture, artwork, photographs, and manuscripts, including first editions of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables; a first edition of Emily Dickinson’s Poems, Second Series; a collection of poems by Francis Scott Key, thought to include the first appearance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a book; and O. Henry’s original, handwritten manuscript for his short story “A Fog in Santone.”
The gift also will be used to create a permanent acquisition fund for the Poets’ Corner. “In keeping with Jenny Lind’s wishes, Sidnye Johnson and her staff will annually add one or two significant pieces of literature and/or art, including literary portraits, to the collection, host arts and humanities events, and along with those appointed to professorships, promote research of the collection and acquisition of poetry,” Kennedy-Witthar said.
Part of the gift will create a $160,000 scholarship fund, which will disperse awards annually for the Department of Communication and through a creative writing contest in the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages. Porter’s gift will also establish three professorships in the departments of English, history, and communications.