Friends Honor the Late Marvin Bell with MFA Scholarship

Poet Marvin Bell was one of the first faculty members in the Pacific University Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. From the very beginning, he was dedicated to lifting up students.

In the wake of his death in December, friends of the program are carrying on Bell’s legacy with a scholarship in his name.

An anonymous donor contributed $1,000 for an immediate scholarship for the MFA program, as well as $10,000 to start what will become the Marvin Bell Endowed Poetry Scholarship Fund. The donor also has pledged to match up to $5,000 in gifts from other donors to the fund in 2021.

Throughout his 45-year career, Bell published more than 20 books of poetry and taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, receiving multiple honors, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and Fulbright appointments. He was Iowa’s first ever Poet Laureate.

MFA Program Director Scott Korb said Bell was “an extraordinary guide to poetry,” but that he also believed that a teacher “can only see what has been done, not what lies ahead.” He encouraged students’ creativity and exploration. His core belief — “Art is the big yes” — asserted that there is no one way to write and no right way to write.

As the MFA Program held its January residency virtually earlier this month, Bell’s influence was deeply missed.

“That we’ll have to carry on without him breaks my heart,” Korb said. “That his work shows us how gives me hope and confidence.”

Make a gift to the Marvin Bell Endowed Poetry Scholarship Fund

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021