Acclaimed poet Don Welch walks on the concrete of the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus this late summer day. People see him, and he stops to chat. He walks to a bronze statue of a man that stands just south of the library, a happy-looking man with glasses, an open book of poetry, and these words at his feet:
Few people ever earn a statue for their life’s work. Don has one. (And maybe few people of his stature who have a statue would ever do what he does next – pretend to wipe off the pigeon poop.)
“It’s my job to keep the bird doo-doo off my own head.”
“Which is kind of a labor of love, really.”
Welch was the Martin Distinguished Professor of English and the Reynolds Chair of Poetry at UNK. His many national honors include the prestigious Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, judged by the poet William Stafford. His friend and fellow Nebraska poet, former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, once said this about him:
Don Welch lives in Nebraska and is one of those many talented American poets who have never received as much attention as they deserve. His poems are distinguished by the meticulous care he puts into writing them, and by their deep intelligence.
In 2013 Welch, a Nebraska native and UNK alumnus, retired from teaching at UNK after 50 years. In 2014, he produced his 15th book of poems: Morning: Last Poems.
In this short film by award-winning Nebraska storyteller Colleen Kenney, Welch invites viewers into his Kearney home to share in two of his biggest passions:
Poetry and pigeons.