Leslie Norris

OREM — World-renowned poet Leslie Norris, 85, a native of Wales who most recently served as Brigham Young University's emeritus poet in residence, died Thursday, April 6, 2006, at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo after suffering a stroke.

Mr. Norris was born May 21, 1920. As a teenager, he pedaled his bicycle to a nearby town where a group of poets read their work in a room above a bookstore. Among the group was a young Dylan Thomas. Decades later, Norris read poetry at the unveiling of Thomas' memorial stone in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Mr. Norris received an education degree from City of Coventry College and a Master's in Philosophy in English poetry from the University of South Hampton. He was married to his wife, Kitty, for 57 years. They were teachers. He worked as a school administrator until she encouraged him to quit to write poetry full time.

"From what I understand, they had a few lean years, and pretty soon, people started taking to his work," said Rob Bochert, a friend and publisher who worked with Mr. Norris. "He's been published in just about every good journal and magazine — The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly — not just his poems but his prose, too."

Mr. Norris authored 18 poetry anthologies and 10 recordings of his work . He told the Deseret Morning News in 2004 that poetry came as he strolled. After the first idea of the poem, he said he allowed "the image to breed. Then I get a couple of lines and come home as quickly as I can and write. Sometimes it's gone. If they are really strong signals, the thing will come back strong. Now I'm getting signals from parts of the poem I have not gotten to yet. I'll write them on the side. I'm getting all the images. Then I get the last one when I know I'm not going to get any more. Now is the time of labor."

Mr. Norris and his wife moved to the United States in 1971. He taught at the University of Washington. In 1983, he began to teach occasional courses at BYU. He eventually became the school's poet in residence. He traveled across the United States to read his work. At the time of his death, he was still writing poetry and translating the works of a medieval Welsh poet.