J. Radcliffe Squires

J. Radcliffe Squires, professor emeritus of English, died Feb. 14 of an abdominal aneurysm at University Hospital. He was 75.

Squires was the author of seven books of poetry and numerous critical books and essays. He was editor of the Michigan Quarterly Review, the University’s literary and scholarly journal, in 1970–77. A recently completed novel about Rome in the first century A.D. will be published later this year.

“Squires’ poetry focused on the western United States, especially the area around Utah where he was born and raised, and on the world of classical Greece,” says English Prof. Laurence Goldstein. “His short lyrics favor mountain landscape and metaphysical speculation, and his long narrative poems concern the legendary figures of Beowulf, Hercules and Daedalus.

“His critical books, The Loyalties of Robinson Jeffers and The Major Themes of Robert Frost, were important early evaluations of the two poets, and his critical study, Allen Tate: A Literary Biography, remains the standard survey of Tate’s writings.”

In a review of his early poems, the poet Anne Stevenson wrote that “all Squires’ poems share common properties—wit, thought, and a philosophy of nature in which Man is a sacred, yet ruinous intrusion.” In another review, critic Dana Gioia said: “I feel that Squires deserves consideration as one of the finest American poets writing today.”

Squires was born May 5, 1917, in Salt Lake City. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in 1940, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1946 and a doctorate from Harvard University in 1952.

After teaching at Dartmouth College, Squires joined the U-M as instructor in English in 1952, became assistant professor in 1954, associate professor in 1960 and professor in 1963.

After his retirement in 1982, Squires continued to teach seminars for first-year students and remained active as an essayist and reviewer.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. March 20 in the Koessler Library, Michigan League. Memorial contributions may be sent to Diabetes Research, Office of Medical Center Development, 301 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

Squires’ wife, the former Eileen Mulholland, died in 1976.


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