Clinton F. Larson: Mormon Poet
Clinton F. Larson was a poet, playwright, and writer. He was the founding editor of BYU Studies.
Larson started his studies at the University of Utah with the intent to study medicine. However, he took an English class with poet and academic Brewster Ghiselin who convinced him he had the potential to be a writer. He graduated with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Utah and holds a PhD degree in English from the University of Denver. His studies were interrupted twice, first to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to England and New England (1939–1941), and second, after he married in 1942, to serve in the Army Air Corps during the duration of World War II.
He was a professor of English at Brigham Young University where he was made BYU’s first poet-in-residence. He retired in 1985.
Larson is the author of Homestead in Idaho, The Civil War Poems, Romaunt of the Rose: A Tapestry of Poems, The Mantle of the Prophet and Other Plays; Coriantumer and Moroni: Two Plays; The Lord of Experience; Sunwind; Centennial Portraits: Brigham Young University Centennial, 1975–76: Poems; and Selected Poems of Clinton F. Larson. His published works include the 16-volume text of the Illustrated Stories of the Book of Mormon. His friend and colleague, David L. Evans said of him:
- [He] is one of the most significant and highly respected Mormon writers of our time and also one of the most prolific. Judging by the voluminous output of his mind—in every writing medium and on just about any topic—it is apparent that he is in a productive mode during all his waking hours. He thinks poetically, he speaks poetically; and much of his daily thought therefore can end up, and quite often does, in written form. He is also, of course, widely published, with over three million copies of his books in use in addition to his poetry and plays appearing individually in many and various publications.
Larson was born on September 22, 1919, and passed away on July 10, 1994. He and his wife, Naomi, were the parents of two daughters.