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Steve Sparks, lecturer in the Department of English, passed away earlier this month at the age of 51. He taught freshman composition courses, poetry, creative writing, and was known for his courses that taught students how to study and write about the supernatural.

Sparks was published in many literary journals and anthologies including Tar River Poetry, New Millennium Writings, The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. II: Contemporary Appalachia, and Outscapes: Writings about Fences and Frontiers.

“Steve was a student in my poetry workshops decades ago; his work was brilliant,” said Marilyn Kallet, director of the creative writing program, “I teach Steve’s poetry in my undergraduate and graduate poetry writing workshops; we read his work alongside that of Walt Whitman’s, and Pulitzer winners C.K. Williams and Robert Hass. Steve became a superb teacher in his own right. His students adored him.”

“He was a gifted teacher and a very kind person,” said John Zomchick, vice provost of faculty affairs and former head of the Department of English.

Outside of the classroom, Sparks was a pop culture buff and an avid poker player—recently making it to the final table at a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament in Biloxi, Mississippi.

A memorial service will be held in September at the UT Gardens. More information will be announced in Tennessee Today.