Larry D. Thomas, the third of four sons born to Edith Thomas and Roy Thomas, was born in 1947 in the small west Texas town of Haskell. At the time of Larry’s birth, his mother was a housewife and his father owned and operated a Mobil service station. Both of his parents had to leave school in the tenth grade to work in the cotton fields, and they worked as sharecroppers in the early years of their marriage until Roy obtained employment at the service station which he eventually purchased before Larry’s birth. When Larry was three years old, the family moved to Midland, Texas, where Roy owned and operated another Mobil service station and Larry attended public schools through the eighth grade. In 1961 the family moved to Brownwood, Texas, where Roy owned and operated a Fina service station and Larry attended Brownwood High School, graduating in 1965 as a member of the National Honor Society.
After graduation from high school, Larry attended Howard Payne University in Brownwood on a full-time basis for two years, supporting himself by working afternoons, evenings and weekends as a district circulation manager for The Brownwood Bulletin newspaper. He transferred to the University of Houston in 1967, attending night classes on a full-time basis until he graduated in 1970 with a B. A. degree in English literature. While attending the University of Houston, he supported himself through his full-time employment as a district caseworker for the Harris County Social Services Department.
Larry completed a four-year tour of duty in the U. S. Navy shortly after receiving his bachelor’s degree, serving as a correctional counselor in the Navy Correctional Center, Norfolk, Virginia. During his naval service, Larry started writing poetry consistently on weekends, a disciplined practice he would maintain throughout his twenty-three year, post-naval career in the adult probation field. By the time he retired as a branch director of the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (in Houston) in 1998, Larry had published a large number of poems in numerous national literary journals to many of which he had earned the distinction of being a regular contributor.
In January 2001, Larry brought out his first collection of poetry, The Lighthouse Keeper, with Timberline Press (Fulton, MO), a handset letterpress edition illustrated with original linocuts and a serigraph. The volume was selected by the Small Press Review as a “pick of the issue” (May/June 2001) and quickly sold out two printings. Larry’s major breakthrough as a poet occurred during the same year when he was awarded the 2001 Texas Review Poetry Prize for Amazing Grace, a book-length collection which also won the 2003 Western Heritage Award (a top national award for a book of poems celebrating the historical or contemporary American West) and a Spur Award finalist citation. His subsequent volumes of verse received several significant prizes and awards, including the 2004 Texas Review Poetry Prize and 2004 Violet Crown Award (both won by Where Skulls Speak Wind, Texas Review Press 2004); three Pushcart Prize nominations; three additional Spur Award finalist citations; and a Poets’ Prize nomination (West Chester University). In April 2007, Larry was appointed by the Texas Legislature as the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate. He was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in April 2009. Among the prominent writers who have praised Larry’s poetry are Walter McDonald, Robert Phillips, Cyrus Cassells, Paul Ruffin, Paul Christensen, James Hoggard, Carol Coffee Reposa, Jan Epton Seale and Wendy Barker.
Larry is married to Lisa Thomas, D.D.S., a faculty member of the University of Texas Dental Branch, and has one child, Deena, who has enjoyed a successful career in banking.
Publications: The Lighthouse Keeper (poems), Timberline Press 2001; Amazing Grace (poems), Texas Review Press 2001; The Woodlanders (poems), Pecan Grove Press 2002; Where Skulls Speak Wind (poems), Texas Review Press 2004; Stark Beauty (poems), Timberline Press 2005; With the Light of Apricots (poems), Lily Press 2007 (online); Eros (poems), Slow Trains Literary Journal 2007 (online); The Fraternity of Oblivion (poems), Timberline Press 2008; New and Selected Poems, TCU Press 2008; The Circus (poems), Right Hand Pointing 2008 (online); Plain Pine (poems), Right Hand Pointing 2010 (online).
(Biographical Sketch was provided by Larry Thomas in 2010.)
Scope and Contents: Poems, published materials, internet materials, third party materials, newspaper clippings, awards, photographs, and correspondence and letters with publishers, editors, writers, fans, friends, and organizations.