By Alicia Lambert
Many University of Nebraska at Omaha students may know Richard David Wyatt from his work in the library, while others may know him as the associate editor of The Backwaters Press. However, he’s now also a national award winner for poetry. Wyatt’s poem “Winter’s Glory” won the first annual Loraine Williams Poetry Prize, which includes Wyatt’s poem being published in next spring’s issue of The Georgia Review in addition to receiving $1,000. Richard’s poetry has already been published in many impressive volumes including Natural Bridge, Carolina Quarterly, Midwest Quarterly, Greensboro Review, and Poetry. In addition, he was given a Distinguished Artist Award from the Nebraska Arts Council in 2006.
Wyatt’s poetry career began at UNO, where he received his BFA in creative writing from UNO’s Writer’s Workshop. After spending time in the army, Wyatt enrolled in a creative writing course, where his first assignment was to write a poem.
“I immediately found the challenge of compressing language and thought a great ‘eye-opener’,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt describes his experience at UNO’s Writer’s Workshop as “life-changing”. He says that he had terrific teachers and made many friends who also became writers including Ernst Niemann, who currently works in the UNO English department, Doug Marr, the founder of Circle Theatre, and Lorraine Duggin who has worked many years as a Nebraska Arts Council writing instructor and presenter.
Although Wyatt enjoys writing poetry, he also finds inspiration in reading work by other poets. Wyatt reads poetry from a variety of different writers including W.S. Merwin, James Wright, Robert Bly, Galway Kinnell, Allen Ginsberg, James Tate and their influences Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Vallejo, Machado, Neruda, and Lorca.
Besides his hobby of writing poetry, Wyatt says he continues to watch the Chicago Cubs lose every year. “It’s humbling for everyone; and poets, especially poets, need to be humble.”
For aspiring writers and poets, Wyatt’s only advice is to not give too much advice.
“It’s easy to lead someone in a direction he or she won’t find rewarding for him or her, ” Watt said.
Wyatt instead believes encouragement is a better option because, “Soon enough, in most cases, a person will decide the writing can be left behind.”
Wyatt would like readers to know that the shelves of the UNO Criss Library are full of good poetry, including poems in many different languages and of profound seeing. As William Carlos Williams, a great poet and physician, once wrote, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men (women) die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”