As seen in the sign above, Randall Jarrell was born in 1914, in the same year as fellow poet Octavio Paz and actor John Wayne; the year World War I began. Jarrell's relationship with Greensboro began in 1947 when he came here to teach and where he would live for 18 years. Today, we wanted to feature a portrait of the well-known writer; however, there are only two known portraits of him-- at least that he actually sat for. They were done by Greensboro artist and Jarell's long-time friend, Betty Watson. One of the portraits is in storage at Jackson Library and the other is now owned by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery (read more here).
Jarell wrote for children and adults alike. Many of his writings draw from his military experience, some from his time teaching at Sarah Lawrence College. He won the National Book Award for his collection, The Woman at the Washington Zoo. His "parable of charming instruction", The Bat-Poet, illustrated by the famous Maurice Sendak, was published in 1964. (quote from the review here). It would be 29 more years until a bat-protagonist would again win the hearts of children (J. Cannon's Stellaluna).
Jarrell's life ended too soon and tragically, in 1965 at age 51, when he was struck by a car while walking. Jarrell is buried in the cemetery adjacent to New Garden Friends Meeting. Today is ABC Wednesday and "J" is for Jarrell, one of Greensboro's great literary figures. See our A-I entries here.