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The poet Joseph Langland was raised on the family farm in northeastern Iowa, and earned both a BA (1940) and MA (1941) from the famed writing program at the University of Iowa, before being inducted into the military service during the Second World War. While still in Germany serving with the Allied military government, Langland had printed for his family his first book of poetry, a chapbook titled For Harold (1945), for his younger brother who had been killed in action in the Philippines. Returning home, he taught part-time at Iowa, then joined the faculty at the University of Wyoming (1948-1959), and finally UMass Amherst. Part of a wave of energetic young writers and scholars to arrive on campus, Langland became active in the early years of the Massachusetts Review and founded the university's MFA Program for Poets and Writers. A prolific writer, he contributed regularly to literary magazines and was author of The Green Town (1956), The Wheel of Summer (1963), The Sacrifice Poems (1975), Any Body's Song (1980), and Selected Poems (1991). Langland was recipient of the National Council of the Arts Award, the Melville Cane Award, the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Fellowship, and a Ford Faculty Fellowship, among other honors. After his retirement from UMass in 1979, he served as emeritus until his death in 2007.
The Langland Papers include a substantial number of original manuscripts of poetry, many unpublished, correspondence with major poets, and an extensive run of Langland's letters written home to his wife and family during the war. Other Langland Papers are housed at Luther College in Iowa.
Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries