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Menacing totalitarian mandibles!


Academic excellence at Montclair High School
Richard Wilbur Poet
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After Essex Fells schools, I went on to Montclair High School, which was seven miles from North Caldwell, a splendid school. To give an idea of the high morale of the place, I need only mention that Mr Palmer, the Vice-Principal, gave volunteer Greek classes after school and had in fact some takers. I enjoyed Montclair High School a good deal although, of course, I was the person who came from far away and was a little less socially easy than the rest of my classmates.

There were venturesome programmes there, I recall being in a splendid programme called Art English, which was operated by Mr Wells, the English teacher, and Miss Atkinson, the art teacher. We were continually invited in one way or another to fuse our interest in art and in making art, and our interest in literature and in writing.

Montclair's morale was so high and the quality of education was so high that it wasn't necessary to take any tests in those days in order to go on to college, and so soon I was on my way to Amherst College, which was the only college of which our family was at all aware. We had a dear friend, Mr Lewis Wakely, who was an alumnus of Amherst and who regarded Amherst as very close to godliness, and in, in view of his excitement, I was enlisted there.

Acclaimed US poet Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) published many books and was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He was less well known for creating a musical version of Voltaire's “Candide” with Bernstein and Hellman which is still produced throughout the world today.

Listeners: David Sofield

David Sofield is the Samuel Williston Professor of English at Amherst College, where he has taught the reading and writing of poetry since 1965. He is the co-editor and a contributor to Under Criticism (1998) and the author of a book of poems, Light Disguise (2003).

Tags: Montclair High School, North Caldwell, Amherst College

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008