Richard Lyons

SHS student Michael Jack and poetRichard Lyons, Photo by N. Jacobs

SHS student Michael Jack and poet Richard Lyons, Photo by N. Jacobs

Major Works

  • Fleur Carnivore (2006) Winner of the 2005 Washington Prize presented by Word Works
  • Hours of the Cardinal (2000) winner of James Dickey Memorial Award, published by University of South Carolina Press
  • These Modern Nights (1988) Devins Award, University of Missouri Press
  • Thinner You Grow (Chapbook) San Pedro Press, Tucson, Arizona, 1984.

Biography of Richard Lyons

by Michael Jack (SHS)

Hours of the Cardinal, winner of the James Dickey Award

Hours of the Cardinal, winner of the James Dickey Award

Richard Lyons is an accomplished writer and teacher who has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Amherst, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona (1976-1979) and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston in English/Creative Writing (1984-1991). During 1979 and 1980, Richard Lyons was an Instructor of Freshman Composition for the University of Maryland in Heidelberg, West Germany.  Lyons came to Mississippi State University, where he is currently an Associate Professor, in 1994 from Rhodes College in Memphis.  In 1988, Deborah Digges selected his first collection These Modern Nights as a Devins Award winner in the University of Missouri Press Breakthrough Series.  In 2000 Richard Howard selected Lyons’s second collection Hours of the Cardinal  for the James Dickey Contemporary Poets Series at the University of South Carolina Press.  His latest collection of poetry entitled Fleur Carnivore was selected the winner of the 2005 Washington prize. He is currently marketing poems from his next work Granite from Sugar Water.  

Richard Lyons, Photo by N. Jacobs

Richard Lyons, Photo by N. Jacobs

In addition to those awards listed above , Richard Lyons has earned numerous awards for his works.  Some of these awards include the YHMA/The Nation “Discovery” Award for Poetry in 1984; the Stele Ehrhardt Memorial and Culled Fellowship from the University of Houston in 1984; the Alan Cooling Scholarship in Poetry from the Broadleaf Writers’ Conference in 1986; the Criterion Fellowship from Imprint, Inc., in 1987; and the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1992. Richard Lyons has been taught at over eight colleges and higher learning institutes. Altogether he has had over ninety-five articles published in magazines such as The Nation, Poetry, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and The North American Review.  In addition, Richard Lyons has chaired and edited many different poetry committees, meetings, and magazine articles. He currently teaches creative writing in the English Department at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.

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A Review of Hours of the Cardinal

by Michael Jack (SHS)

I am not a particularly big fan of poetry to begin with, so I had trouble understanding the majority of the poems found in the book  Hours of the Cardinal. The poems’ subjects in this book seemed to be too sporadic for me to understand. I have read quite a bit,  but mostly I read from novels that have very definite and defined  plots to them,  unlike this book of poetry that changes subjects quite often.  I did enjoy a few of the poems….mainly one entitled Symmetry, which talks about a hummingbird and how in its tiny form it is so perfectly symmetrical. Most of the poems in this book seemed to me to contain some personal meaning to Dr. Lyons that one would have to know to fully understand them and get the true meaning–kind of like an inside joke. They may be more easily read and understood by people with more imaginative minds than mine, or with more experience in reading and writing poetry than I do. All in all,  I would recommend this book if you enjoy reading poetry.

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An Interview with Richard Lyons

by Michael Jack (SHS) 2001

Richard Lyons, Photo by N. Jacobs

Richard Lyons, Photo by N. Jacobs

If you had one thing to change in your professional life,  what would it be?

“Nothing, maybe get luckier”

Do you plan on writing more?

“Yes, I have written three books past that (Hours of the Cardinal), that I have not published yet.”

Do you have any other aspirations?

“Yes, to win every award given in poetry and to improve MSU’s writing program.

What is your favorite type of music?


Who would you say is or has been the most influential author to you?

Robert Lowell

What is your favorite book, if you have one?

Day by Day, written by Robert Lowell

Do you have any hobbies other than writing poetry?

Yes, painting”

Favorite quote?

“Miles Davis said this once, I believe.  ‘You have to play a long time to sound like yourself.'”

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Related Websites

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  • Lyons, Richard. Hours of the Cardinal.
  • Personal interview with Richard Lyons, April 23, 2001.

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