Wesley McNair was born 19 June 1941 in Newport N.H. He received a B.A. degree (English) from Keene State College in 1963; an M.A. degree (English) from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, in 1968; and an advanced master’s degree at Bread Loaf (M.Litt. in American Literature) in 1975. He is the author of nine volumes of poetry, including two limited editions. He has received two Rockefeller Fellowships for study at the Bellagio Center in Italy, and has held grants from the Fulbright and Guggenheim foundations, a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship in Literature, and two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowships in poetry. Other honors include the Devins Award for Poetry, the Jane Kenyon Award, the Robert Frost Award, the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Eunice Tietjens Prize from Poetry magazine, the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal, an Emmy award, and three honorary degrees for literary distinction. He has served four times on the nominating jury for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry and was among the first recipients of a United States Artists Fellowship (2006). From 1998 to 2001 he was poetry editor for the Maine Times. His work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize annual; two editions of The Best American Poetry; over fifty anthologies; and eighteen books, including poetry, essays, and anthologies. A guest editor in poetry for the 2010 Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses, he recently published a volume of new and selected poems, Lovers of the Lost (David R. Godine, 2010).
As an educator McNair has been a teacher at the Hillsboro and the New London Central High Schools (N.H., 1963-1968); a visiting professor at Dartmouth College (1984); and a professor of English at Colby-Sawyer College (1968-1987), where he founded the American Studies program. As a professor at the Univerity of Maine at Farmington from 1987 until his retirement in 2004, he founded and directed the Creative Writing program, and he was a visiting professor at Colby College from 1999 to 2004. He is currently appointed Writer in Residence at UMF.