Poet laureate represents Missouri with Pirates: David Harrison ‘59

david harrison


In 1983, David Harrison was named Poet Laureate of Drury University by President John Moore, and while he continues to serve under that title, he has also had a broad and successful career as a scientist, a writer, an editor, and an owner of a local family business. David graduated from Drury with a degree in zoology and geology, but during his last semester, his life took a serendipitous turn toward the arts when he was prompted to take a creative writing class and found his passion.


While he pursued a master’s degree in parasitology at Emory University in 1961, David also began a lifelong career as an author of children’s literature. He has written over 90 books for children and teachers alike and has received a multitude of honors, including honorary doctorates of letters from Drury and Missouri State, an elementary school named after him, and the chance to speak at conferences across the nation. 


In 2006, David was approached by his publisher to collaborate with Dan Burr, an illustrator, on a children’s book of poetry about pirates. David and Dan worked together vigorously for two years, and the infamous warriors of the sea were brought to life in Pirates, which was published and soared to national success; it became one of the best-selling nonfiction books of the year. In September of 2013, Pirates was selected to represent Missouri at the Library of Congress National Book Festival, which was held in Washington, D.C., and over 200,000 people attended.


Most recently, David collaborated with Dr. Laurie Edmondson in the School of Education and Child Development to produce a DVD series for elementary language arts teachers called “Let’s Write This Week with David Harrison.” To learn more about David’s work, please visit davidlharrison.com or davidlharrison.wordpress.com.


Written by Brooke Dacquisto ’16