Michael Blumenthal, the lawyer-turned-writer and poet, is delivering Novembers Edward G. Donley lecture next week at the WVU College of Law.
Hell talk at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the law centers Gladys G. Davis Gallery.The Road Not Taken-Twice: Of Courage (and the Lack of It), and Choosing a Literary Life over a Legal Oneis the title of his presentation.
Blumenthal is known more these days for his literary life than his former legal one. He recently completed a memoir,All My Mothers and Fathers,and his sixth book of poems,Dusty Angel.His novel,Weinstock Among the Dying,won Hadassah Magazines Harold U. Ribelow Prize for the best work of Jewish fiction in 1994.
A collection of essays chronicling his time in Central Europe,When History Enters the House,was published in 1998.
p. Blumenthals legal life, however, advanced quickly following his 1974 graduation from Cornell Law School. He clerked for David Souter, who went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and then served as a staff attorney with the Federal Trade Commission.
The literary life beckoned, though, and Blumenthal left the FTC to become an arts administrator with the National Endowment for the Humanities. A stint as an editor with Time-Life Books followed before he rejoined the NEA as assistant to the chairman.
After that, it was authoring and academia. Besides penning his acclaimed books and poetry collections, he served as director of creative writing at Harvard and lived and worked at universities in Hungary, Israel, Germany and France.
He also held the Acuff Chair of Excellence in Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University, and is currently the Darden Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Old Dominion University.
James Elkins, a WVU College of Law professor who teaches courses in lawyers and literature and is arranging the visit, said Blumenthal is successful because he is so versatile with words.
Youre expressing an idea,Elkins said.Youre literally stating your case, whether its before a jury or in the blocks of print on a book page. Its about language and how we use it; theres no one better in this regard than Michael Blumenthal.
The Edward G. Donley Memorial Lectures are conducted annually under the direction of WVU law faculty and bring to the University distinguished legal professionals to lecture in a field of current interest and development in the law.
Donley, an 1899 graduate of the College of Law, practiced in Morgantown from the date of his graduation until his passing in 1952.
The lectures are made possible by his late wife, Eleanor, and late son, Robert T. Donley, with a trust now administered by the WVU Foundation Inc.