By: Laura Bird
Leslie Norris enjoyed sharing poetry with students at last year’s English Reading Series so much that he requested to come back to this semester’s series.
But Norris, who taught at BYU for two decades before he passed away April 6, 2006, wasn’t able to make it to this year’s reading series as he had hoped. The English Reading Series in the Harold B. Lee Library honored Norris, BYU’s former poet in residence, this year by holding a tribute to conclude the winter semester series.
“On April 6, exactly one year ago he died,” said Dean Hughes, an associate professor in the English Department. “This is our way of sort of inviting him back.”
The tribute consisted of a brief introduction followed by a movie in his honor. The video highlighted Norris reciting his poems and sharing his feelings about them. Many professors and students also shared their love for Norris.
Alan Keele, a professor in the German and Slavic Languages Department, said even though Norris had no children of his own, he loved them and really knew how to speak to them at their level.
“He would get down on the floor with children [to teach them],” Keele said. “He was a marvelous teacher to children.”
Keele said any who got to learn at his feet probably learned the greatest things they’d ever learn.
“Norris was a great gift to BYU and a great teacher,” Keele said.
Along with his talent for poetry, Norris wrote short stories.
Burt Wilson, a professor emeritus in the English Department, said Norris wrote with a soul that echoed in his writing.
“Some people claim that you ought to separate the work of art from the artist and just judge the work on its own,” Wilson said. “But I can’t do that with Leslie, he shines through everything.”