Students in Dr. Lesley Lee Francis' summer course "Modern Spanish-American Literature and Robert Frost" at A&M International may not realize that their professor has especially keen insight into the works of the four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Dr. Francis is Frost's granddaughter and regularly visited and corresponded with him until his death in 1963.
Dr. Ray Keck, A&M International provost, said the opportunity for University students to benefit from such a guest lecturer is a rare privilege.
"This is indeed a distinct privilege for our students, our University and our community. The opportunity to experience Dr. Francis' unique insights and scholarship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Dr. Keck said.
Keck's friendship with Francis dates back to their shared time and scholarship in Spain and later in Virginia, where both taught.
"Her friendship has been a joy to our family for many years and we are delighted that she has come to Laredo this summer to bring our students and members of the community at large a truly enlightening opportunity," he explained.
In addition to her classroom lectures, Dr. Francis will present a special public lecture and reading for the community at large on Tuesday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Room of the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library. Admission will be free of charge and open to the public.
A second lecture for students in the University's pre-College summer programs is also scheduled later in the month.
Frost, a father, teacher and poet, has long been considered America's poet and by the time of his death had achieved worldwide recognition. His poems such as "The Road Not Taken," "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "Mending Wall," to name a few, remain literary touchstones for generations. Of poetry, he wrote simply , "All poetry is a reproduction of the tones of actual speech."
Dr. Francis'own life has also been shaped by the power and majesty of language with her journey into the world of Spanish history and literature.
After receiving her Ph.D. in Romance Languages from Duke University, she taught at colleges and universities in Virginia and Texas, as well as at the family-owned Escuela de la Tahona, a summer school for high school girls founded by her mother, Lesley Frost, eldest daughter of Robert and Elinor Frost, in La Granja, Spain.
She served on the professional staff of the American Association of University Professors in Washington, D.C., from 1974-1997.
Her book The Frost Family's Adventure in Poetry: Sheer Morning Gladness at the Brim (University of Missouri Press, 1994), brings to life the family's early years in Derry, New Hampshire and their nearly three years of living in England, where Frost first achieved recognition as a poet.
While in England, the Frost children began a magazine, The Bouquet,with Lesley Frost as managing editor of an ambitious journalistic effort of original stories, poems, watercolor illustrations and the occasional poem by their father and his English friend Edward Thomas. The six surviving issues are considered invaluable sources of understanding what motivated the struggling poet prior to public recognition. They have recently been published again in a limited edition in England.
Francis' grandfather practiced education by poetry and Francis continues that legacy through special guest lectures and seminars across the country. She is also co-honorary Trustee of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry and a member of the Advisory Board of The Robert Frost Review.
For additional information on Dr. Francis' public lecture June 19, please contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at 326.2180.
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