From CU-Boulder News Release May 12, 1993
Distinguished Poet Reg Saner Wins Hazel Barnes Prize
A prolific, award-winning poet and lauded English professor at the University of Colorado Boulder has won the university's highest teaching and research award, the Hazel Barnes Prize.
Reg Saner has been a professor at CU-Boulder since 1962 and has authored hundreds of poems and essays, many of which focus on the natural beauty of Colorado and the American West. He's been listed in Who's Who In America since 1977.
The award, however undeserved, continues to be among the high points of my career – all the more because I had long admired Hazel before the award was instituted, Saner said.
Saner earned his bachelor's degree in 1950 from Wisconsin's St. Norbert College and went on to get master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He spent more than a year in Italy as a Fulbright Scholar, studying Italian Renaissance culture. After a two-year stint in the United States Army during the Korean War, Saner began his teaching career at the University of Illinois before moving to Colorado.
A fascination with Colorado's towns, animals, mountain peaks and lakes has inspired Saner's distinguished catalog of poetry. His work has appeared in more than 100 literary magazines and in a number of anthologies, and he is an invited member of the Poets, Essayists and Novelists organization as well as the Poetry Society of America.
Saner once told an interviewer that there was a common thread in all his work. Almost all the poems, even the love poems, are set out of doors. My work often includes people, but they're always people in a landscape, whether up close or far off, women or men, he said.
The decades of the 1970s and 1980s were filled with honors and awards for Saner. In 1975, his collection of poems Climbing into the Roots was chosen out of 1,600 submissions as winner of the first-ever Walt Whitman Award given by the Academy of American Poets and the Copernicus Society of America. That same year, Saner was selected as Distinguished Lecturer by his colleagues in the CU-Boulder English department. In 1983, CU-Boulder conferred its highest research honor at that time on Saner, naming him Distinguished Research Lecturer.
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Saner a creative writing fellowship in 1976, and five years later his book of poems So This Is the Map won an open competition sponsored by the National Poetry Series. In the summer of 1983 Saner received the state of Colorado's Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.
In 1992, Saner continued garnering awards and recognition in addition to the Hazel Barnes Prize. He was selected as Artist-in-the-Park with an honorary residency in the William Allen White Cabin at Rocky Mountain National Park. The Vail Music Festival also commissioned New York composer Anthony Davis to set two of Saner's poems to music. The resulting piece for soprano, strings, piano and percussion was premiered at Beaver Creek Resort and filmed by PBS.
Also in the early 1990s, Saner's enthusiasm for backpacking, backcountry skiing and canyoneering culminated in the publication of a book of prose, The Four-Cornered Falcon: Essays on the Interior West and the Natural Scene. The book was nominated for the John Burroughs Medal in nature writing.
Saner's talents have also been employed as a drama reviewer in Boulder newspapers and as a Poet-in-the-Schools, a position made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts in which he visited more than 30 Colorado schools to stimulate interest in poetry and language arts.
At the university level, Saner has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels on topics such as Shakespeare's imagination, North American nature writing, modern drama, comic style and Renaissance cosmos and image.
The Hazel Barnes Prize was established at CU-Boulder in 1991 to recognize the enriching relationship between teaching and research. The $20,000 award is the largest single faculty prize funded by the university, and is named in honor of philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes. Noted for her interpretations of the works of French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, Barnes taught at CU-Boulder from 1943 to 1986.