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Edmund Skellings

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edmund Skellings
Edmund Skellings.gif
Born(1932-03-12)12 March 1932
Ludlow, Massachusetts, USA
Died19 August 2012(2012-08-19) (aged 80)[1]
West Melbourne, Florida, USA
NationalityUnited States
SpouseLouise Skellings

Edmund Skellings (March 12, 1932 – August 19, 2012) was an American poet. He was the Poet Laureate of Florida from 1980 to 2012,[2] and was succeeded by Peter Meinke.


Edmund Skellings was born in Ludlow, Massachusetts.[3]

In 1957, Skellings graduated with English honors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He received his doctorate in English from the University of Iowa, where he taught prosody and metrics in the Iowa Writer's Workshop.

In 1962, he published the first record-book, Duels and Duets, whose covers contained vinyl recording of the poet's voice.

In 1963, he founded the Alaska Writer's Workshop at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Skellings also organized the Alaska Flying Poets (an Upward Bound project), a group of five professors from the Workshop who flew a small airplane around Alaska and the Midwest to talk to high school students about the value of learning to write well.[4] The program was an enormous success and influenced many students to attend college.

In 1967, Skellings joined the faculty of Florida Atlantic University where he taught Understanding Poetry and Shakespeare. He began to experiment with audio amplification and modification to augment his performance of poetry and billed himself as "The First Electric Poet." During the late 60s, he took his Electric Poet performance to scores of college campuses and appeared on numerous television shows.

In 1973, Skellings became Director of the International Institute of Creative Communication at Florida International University which brought poetry in the schools programs to over 100,000 children in South Florida. Skellings then published three volumes of poetry: Heart Attacks (1976), Face Value (1977) and Showing My Age (1978) with the University Presses of Florida. In 1980, after a competition of four hundred Florida poets, Governor Robert Graham appointed Skellings the Poet Laureate of the State of Florida, a lifetime honor. Skellings published a new collection of poetry, Living Proof (1985) with the University Presses of Florida. His most recent book is Collected Poems 1958-1998, published by the University Press of Florida, Gainesville. The book also contains a Compact Disc recording of Skellings reading fifty Selected Poems.[5]

Edmund Skellings poetry has received high praise from some of America’s most respected poets. After reading Heart Attacks, Robert Penn Warren wrote Skellings poems had, "True imagination, the real flash of language, the living rhythm." William Stafford wrote, "One of the greatest things since Shakespeare loosed Puck.” And Richard Eberhart wrote, "Racy gifts. They hardly hold themselves down to earth." [6]

Skellings purchased his first personal computer in 1978, and immediately applied for a patent which used matching colors on a computer monitor to show relationships between alphanumerics and symbols.[7] He was awarded a United States patent for his color system in 1981, and later received similar patents from the United Kingdom and Canada. Skellings' system of organizing text on a color monitor led to the publication of a color authoring system entitled Electric Poet by International Business Machines Inc. in 1984 and a further product entitled Easy Street by McGraw-Hill.

In 1986, Skellings designed and implemented a microcomputer information system for The Florida House of Representatives and its district offices. The system was the first large scale legislative implementation of a token-ring network. It was one of the first government systems to utilize electronic mail to transfer documents.

Skellings became the founding Director of the Florida Center for Electronic Communication at Florida Atlantic University in Fort Lauderdale in 1990.[8] There he developed one of the first Master of Fine Arts degrees in Computer Arts in the country. The Florida Center for Electronic Communication achieved an international reputation for the quality of its graduate program and the unique form of award-winning animated computer poems Skellings taught his students to create. Students wrote their own poems or selected favorite poems on which to base their imagery. They recorded the audio of the poem and occasionally collaborated with a musician to create a musical score for their animation.

In 2002, Skellings won the Videographer Crystal Award of Excellence for his video disc Word Songs, a surround sound recording of his own poetry and the first collection of 3D animated poetry in the world.

The Evans Library of the Florida Institute of Technology is currently digitizing Edmund Skellings innovative multimedia archives. The project began during the summer of 2009 and completion is expected by summer of 2011. The Edmund Skellings Collection contains literary correspondence, reviews of Skellings' poetry and innovative research, publications, lectures, and interviews.

Dr. Edmund Skellings was appointed a University Professor of Humanities at the Florida Institute of Technology in 2008, where he divided his time writing poetry and promoting programs in the humanities.

He died in his West Melbourne, Florida, home on August 19, 2012.[1][2]



  • Collected Poems, (University Press of Florida, 1998)
  • Living Proof, (University Press of Florida, 1987)
  • Showing My Age, (University Press of Florida, 1978)
  • Face Value, (University Press of Florida, 1977)
  • Heart Attacks, (University Press of Florida, 1976)
  • The Marriage Fire, (Qara Press, 1963)
  • Duels and Duets, (Qara Press, 1962)
  • The Comma Cat, (Cornell Series, 1962) (children's verse)


  • Word Songs, (DVD, Florida Center for Electronic Communication, 2002)
  • Selected Poems, (CD, University Press of Florida, 1997)
  • Nearing The Millennium, (Compact Cassette, The Library of Congress, 1977)
  • Ultra-Red, (Compact Cassette, Black Box, 1973)
  • The Marriage Fire, (LP, RCA Victor, 1963)
  • Duels and Duets, (LP, RCA Victor, 1961)


  • EasyStreet,(McGraw-Hill, 1986)
  • Electric Literature Series, (IBM, 1984)
    • Electric Poet
    • Comma Cat
    • Dictionary Dog


  • Walk of Fame, 1997, Rollins College
  • Doctor of Fine Arts, 1995, International Fine Arts College
  • Moretti Award, 1983, American Express-Hollywood Sun Tattler
  • Florida's Poet Laureate, 1980, Lifetime Appointment
  • Florida Governor's Award for the Arts, 1979, Artist


  1. ^ a b Wayne K. Roustan (2012-08-29). "Edmund Skellings dies: Poet Laureate of Florida Dr. Edmund Skellings dies at 80". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-10-30.
  2. ^ a b "Florida's Poet Laureate". Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
  3. ^ "The bizzaro history of the poet laureate" Archived 2016-11-05 at the Wayback Machine. Toronto Star, July 7, 2016. Bruce Demara.
  4. ^ Edmund Skellings: A Report on Upward Bound Projects
  5. ^ Collected Poems: 1958-1998. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. 1998. ISBN 978-0-8130-1606-1.
  6. ^ Heart Attacks. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. 1976. ISBN 0-8130-0557-4.
  7. ^ US patent 4270284, Edmund Skellings, "Color language teaching method and display and process for creating the display", issued 1981-06-02 
  8. ^ Francis X McAfee: Computer Graphics Research in the Humanities at the Center for Electronic Communication

External links

This page was last edited on 7 September 2019, at 12:34
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