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UW Poet and Professor Believed to Have Died after Fall

May 8, 2009

The family of missing University of Wyoming professor and poet Craig Arnold has learned from the private search group it hired that Arnold likely fell from a high and dangerous cliff, and there is virtually no possibility he could have survived the fall.

"We had truly hoped for a different outcome to this story," UW President Tom Buchanan says. "On behalf of all the faculty and staff at the University of Wyoming, I extend my deepest regrets to Craig's family and fiancee."

Japanese officials started searching for Arnold on April 27 after Arnold failed to return to his inn from a hike on the Japanese island of Kuchinoerabu.

Arnold was researching volcanoes for a book he was writing. He was in Japan through the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission's Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship.

"So many in our community and across the country were fervently hoping for Craig's safe return that this news today feels unbearable," Beth Loffreda, director of the UW Masters of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, says. "We are especially thinking of Craig's son Robin, his partner Rebecca, his mother and father Judy and John, and his brother Chris and his family."

"Knowing Craig has enriched our lives and losing him is devastating," Peter Parolin, head of the UW English department, says. "We will remember him always and will have a time in the near future to celebrate his life and his beautiful work."

Buchanan credits the work of Wyoming's congressional delegation, Sen. Mike Enzi, Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, for extending the search for Arnold on the heavily forested volcanic island.

"Sens. Barrasso and Enzi and Rep. Lummis responded quickly last week to our requests for assistance. Since that time, they have continued to monitor the situation through the State Department and have assessed and acted on all avenues of support. I know the search would not have continued as long as it did without the help of the delegation," Buchanan says. "I'm extremely grateful they were able to take quick action and advocate for Craig when we shared the news of his disappearance."

Arnold came to UW in 2004 as an assistant professor of English after he earned a doctorate from the University of Utah and a bachelor's degree from Yale University in English language and literature.

Arnold wrote two award-winning volumes of poetry: "Shells," chosen by W.S. Merwin for the highly prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1999, and "Made Flesh" (2008). His poetry has been anthologized in several volumes of the Best American Poetry Series, and his poems, articles, and translations from the Spanish have appeared in such publications as The New Republic, Paris Review, Poetry Magazine, Yale Review, and others.

He received numerous awards and honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship in Humanities from Princeton University, an Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Posted on Friday, May 08, 2009

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