MacKaye, Percy (1875–1956) was born in New York City, New York. After graduating from Harvard in 1897, he traveled in Europe for three years, residing in Rome, Switzerland and London, studying at the University of Leipzig in 1899–1900. He returned to New York City to teach at a private school until 1904, when he joined a colony of artists and writers in Cornish, New Hampshire, and devoted himself entirely to dramatic work.
He wrote the plays The Canterbury Pilgrims in 1903, Sappho and Phaon in 1907, Jeanne D'Arc in 1907, The Scarecrow in 1908, Anti-Matrimony in 1910, and the poetry collection The Far Familiar in 1937. In 1950, MacKaye published The Mystery of Hamlet King of Denmark, or What We Will, a series of four plays written as "prequels" to William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
In 1912 he published The Civic Theatre in Relation to the Redemption of Leisure; A Book of Suggestions. Here he presented a concept of Civic Theatre as "the conscious awakening of the people to self-government in its leisure". To this end he called for the active involvement of the public, not merely as spectators, professional staff not dominated by commercial considerations and the elimination of private profit by endowment and public support.
He was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1914. In the 1920s, MacKaye was poet in residence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He lectured on the theatre at Harvard, Yale, Columbia and other universities in the United States. He was the son of actor Steele MacKaye and brother of philosopher James MacKaye and of conservationist Benton MacKaye. Percy MacKaye is considered to be the first poet of the Atomic Era because of his sonnet "The Atomic Law," which was published in the Christmas 1945 issue of The Churchman
MacLeish, Archibald (1892-1982) was born in Glencoe, Illinois. He attended Yale University where he excelled in sports and was chairman of the Yale Literary Monthly. He served in World War I and rose to the rank of captain in the artillery. Later, he went to Harvard Law School and graduated at the head of his class. Yet after only a few years of practicing law in Boston, he gave it up and moved to Paris with his wife and children in order to devote all his time to writing poetry. During this time, he produced such volumes as "The Happy Marriage" (1924), "The Pot of Earth" (1925), "Streets on the Moon" (1926), and "The Hamlet of A. MacLeish" (1928). He returned to the United States to research the Spanish conquest of Mexico, and the result, "Conquistador" (1932), won him a Pulitzer Prize. From 1920-1939, he was a member of the editorial board of Fortune magazine; from 1929-1944, he served as Librarian of Congress. Many of MacLeish's poems deal in a direct and powerful way with the political and social situations of his time. Although he was strongly influenced by Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, he eventually came to oppose the scholastic poetry they espoused because it was too far removed from the pressing concerns of society. MacLeish asserted that the great poets of the past – Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton – did not retreat from social and political issues, and it was the duty of modern poets similarly to involve themselves with their society. MacLeish's "Collected Poems" (1952) won a Pulitzer Prize and his poetic drama, "J.B." based on the Book of Job, was a Broadway success in 1957.
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MacNeice, Louis was born on September 12, 1907, in Belfast, Ireland. He attended Oxford, where he majored in classics and philosophy. In 1930, he married Giovanna Ezra and accepted a post as classics lecturer at the University of Birmingham, a position he held until 1936, when he went on to teach Greek at Bedford College for Women, University of London. In 1941, he joined the British Broadcasting Company as a staff writer and producer. Like many modern English poets, MacNeice found an audience for his work through British radio. Some of his best-known plays, including 'Christopher Columbus' (1944), and 'The Dark Tower' (1946), were originally written for radio and later published. Early in his career, MacNeice was identified with a group of politically committed poets whose work appeared in Michael Roberts's anthology New Signatures. MacNeice drew many of the texts for Modern Poetry: 'A Personal Essay from the New Signature poets'. Modern Poetry was MacNeice's plea for an "impure" poetry expressive of the poet's immediate interests and his sense of the natural and the social world. Despite his association with young British poets Stephen Spender, W. H. Auden, writer Christopher Isherwood, and other left-wing poets, MacNeice was as mistrustful of political programs as he was of philosophical systems. He was never a member of the Communist Party or any other political groups, and he was quite candid about the ambiguities of his political attitudes. "My sympathies are Left," he wrote. "But not in my heart or my guts." Although he chose to live the majority of his adult life in London, MacNeice frequently returned to the landscapes of his childhood, and he took great pride in his Irish heritage. His poetry is characterized by its familiar, sometimes humorous tone and its integration of contemporary ideas and images. In addition to his poetry and radio dramas, MacNeice also wrote the verse translation 'The Agamemnon of Aeschylus' (1936), translated Goethe's 'Faust' (1951), and collaborated with Auden on the 'travelogue Letters from Iceland' (1937). In August of 1963, MacNeice, on location with a BBC team, insisted on going down into a mineshaft to check on sound effects. He caught a chill that was not diagnosed as pneumonia until he was fatally ill. He died on September 3, 1963, just before the publication of his last book of poems, The Burning Perch. He was 55 years old.
Madgett, Naomi Long was born in 1923, and has been a professional poet since 1941. As an English teacher at Detroit’s Northwestern High School, Madgett introduced into the curriculum the first accredited classes in African American literature and creative writing. She was also a leader in the drive for fairer representation of African Americans in textbooks. Besides enhancing and encouraging her students’ writing, Madgett nurtured new poets as editor and publisher of Lotus Press, Inc. Since 1974 the Detroit resident has published 84 collections of poetry, most by African Americans. The Virginia-born Madgett is the poet laureate of Detroit and a professor emerita of English at Eastern Michigan University, where she taught African American literature and creative writing from 1968 to 1984. She has published eight volumes of her poems, including Octavia and Other Poems, Remembrances of Spring: Collected Early Poems, and Exits and Entrances. Her work has been published in magazines, journals and more than 160 anthologies around the world. Madgett also has written several textbooks and instructional texts for teachers, including A Student's Guide to Creative Writing and Teachers Guide for Deep Rivers: a Portfolio by African Americans. She also has edited two poetry anthologies including Adam of Ife: Black Women in Praise of Black Men. Additionally, from 1993 to 1998, Madgett was poetry editor for the Michigan State University Press. Called a “godmother” of emerging poets by the Detroit Free Press in 1998, Madgett has received the American Book Award in the publisher/editor category and was inducted into the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent at Chicago State University in 1999. She has also won the National Council of Teachers of English Black Caucus Award and the Michigan Artist Award. Madgett established the annual Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award.
From the web site of Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.
de la Mare, Walter (1873-1956) was born at Charlton, Kent, in the south of England, of well-to-do parents. He was educated in London at St. Paul's Cathedral Choir School, which he left at age 16. His career as a writer started from about 1895 and he continued to publish to the end of his life. His first published story, 'Kismet' (1895), appeared in the Sketch under the pseudonym Walter Ramal. In 1908 de la Mare was awarded a yearly government pension of £100, and he devoted himself entirely to writing. He retired to Taplow in Buckinghamshire, where he lived with his wife and four children. In 1915 he became of of the legatees of his fellow poet Rupert Brooke. He died at Twickenham, near London, on June 22, 1958. De la Mare is buried in St Paul's Cathedral. His first stories and poems De la Mare wrote for periodicals, among others for The Sketch, and published in 1902 a collection of poetry, SONGS OF CHILDHOOD, under the name Walter Ramal. It attracted little notice. Subsequently he published many volumes of poetry for both adults and children. In 1904 appeared under his own name the prose romance HENRY BROCKEN, in which the young hero encounters writers form the past. THE RETURN (1910) was an eerie story of spirit possession. Arthur Lawford suspects that an eighteenth-century pirate, Nicholas Sabathier, is seizing control of his personality. "'Here lie ye bones of one, Nicholas Sabathier,' he began murmuring again - 'merely bones, mind you; brains and heart are quite another story. And it's pretty certain the fellow had some kind of brains. Besides, poor devil, he killed himself. That seems to hint at brains..." De la Mare's first successful book was The Listeners; the title poem is one of his most anthologized pieces. In the work supernatural presence haunts the solitary Traveller, the typical speaker of his poems: "Is there anybody there? said the Traveller, / Knocking on the moonlit door; / And his horse in the silence champed the grasses / Of the forest's ferny floor.... / But no one descended to the Traveller; / No head from the leaf-fringed sill / Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes, / Where he stood perplexed and still." In 1923 he produced a collection of other people's poetry, COME HITHER. In his poems de la Mare has described the English sea and coast, the secret and hidden world of nature. His favorite themes, childhood, death, dreams, commonplace objects and events, de la Mare examined with a touch of mystery and often with an undercurrent of melancholy. His novels have been reprinted many times in horror collections because of their sense of wonder, and also hidden malevolence. However, De la Mare did not have the morbid atmosphere of Poe, but his dreamlike visions had much similarities with Blake.
Margetson, George Reginald "was born at St. Kitts, British West Indies, in 1877. He was educated at the Moravian school in his district. He came to the United States in 1897. Mr. Margetson has found it necessary to work hard to support a large family and his poems have been written in his spare moments. He is the author of two volumes of verses, "Songs of Life" and "The Fledgling Bard and the Poetry Society," and, in addition, a large number of uncollected poems. Mr. Margetson lives in Boston." (1922) The first publication of this text was in the collection "Songs of Life," 1910, Sherman, French and Company, Boston, Massachusetts.
Quoted from James Weldon Johnson's "The Book of American Negro Poetry," 1922.
Marquis, Don (pron: mär´kwîs), full name Donald Robert Perry Marquis (1878-1937), American writer and columnist, born in Walnut, Illinois. He first became successful with his column "The Sun Dial," which he began writing in 1912 for the New York Sun. He is best remembered for his satirical prose and poetry and for his creation of the characters "archy the cockroach" (a reincarnation of a poet laureate) and the rowdy "mehitabel the cat." Marquis's column reported on these characters and supposedly was typed out by archy, who was unable to depress the shift key on the typewriter to make capital letters. (Nor had he learned the punctuation marks, and he was none too good with the spacebar.) Through his column, which described archy's musings and mehitabel's misadventures, Marquis satirized strict morality, social pretension, and a wide range of contemporary issues, from free verse to prohibition and organized labor. Marquis's major books include Hermione (1916), The Old Soak (1921), archy and mehitabel (1927), archy's life of mehitabel (1933), and archy does his part (1935).
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Marvell, Andrew (1621-1678), English poet. Balance and detachment, strong features of Marvell's poetry, seem to characterize most of his life. During the English Civil War he was a tutor in the household of Lord General Thomas Fairfax and later became assistant to John Milton when the latter was Latin Secretary of the Commonwealth; but he was also a good friend of Lovelace, who was a Royalist, and he never approved of the execution of Charles I. During the Commonwealth he was elected to Parliament and served ably in public offices until his death. He was instrumental in saving Milton from punishment after the Restoration. One of the "Metaphysical Poets", Marvell is best known for his early, largely lyric, poetry, including "The Garden", "To His Coy Mistress", "Bermudas", "The Definition of Love", "An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return From Ireland", and "A Dialogue Between the Soul and Body". Typically, most of these poems represent a tacit, unresolved debate between two or more opposing values: contemplation vs. activity, nature vs. civilization, power vs. justice, etc. In his later days he wrote satirical poetry directed against Stuart policies, such as "The Last Instructions to a Painter", a verse satire on the Dutch War. His work is distinguished by lyric grace, striking conceits and images, and a rare intellectual balance and subtlety. Most of his poems were not published until 1681 and the satires not until 1689, after the "Glorious Revolution." In the 18th century, Marvell was known as a satirist, Swift praising this aspect of his work. The Romantics, Wordsworth and Lamb especially, appreciated his lyric poems, but it was the 20th century which saw a great revival of interest in him, in part through T.S. Eliot's influence as a critic.
From "The Reader's Encyclopedia", Th.Y.Crowell Co. New York, 1965.
Masefield, John (1878–1967) was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967. He was born in Egypt. He is remembered as the author of the classic children's novels The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, nineteen other novels (including Captain Margaret, Multitude and Solitude and Sard Harker), and many memorable poems, including "The Everlasting Mercy" and "Sea-Fever", from his anthology Saltwater Ballads. Masefield was born in Ledbury in Herefordshire. After an unhappy education at the King's School in Warwick, between 1888 and 1891, he left to board the HMS Conway, both to train for a life at sea, and to break his addiction to reading, of which his aunt thought little. He spent several years aboard this ship and found that he could spend much of his time reading and writing. While on the ship, he listened to the stories told about sea lore. However, the urge to become a writer and the hopelessness of life as a sailor overtook him, and in New York, he deserted ship. He lived as a vagrant for several months, before returning to New York City, he did many odd jobs where he was able to find work as an assistant to a bar keeper. He eventually returned home to England in 1897 as a passenger aboard a steam ship. By age 24, Masefield’s poems were being published in periodicals and his first collected works, "Salt-Water Ballads" was published. "Sea Fever" appeared in this book. Masefield then wrote two novels, "Captain Margaret" (1908) and "Multitude and Solitude" (1909). In 1911, after a long drought of poem writing, he composed "The Everlasting Mercy".
"The Everlasting Mercy" was the first of his narrative poems, and within the next year, Masefield produced two more narrative poems, "The Widow in the Bye Street" and "Dauber". As a result of the writing of these three poems, Masefield became widely known to the public and was praised by critics, and in 1912, the annual Edmund de Polignac prize was bestowed upon Masefield. When World War I began, though old enough to be exempted from military service, Masefield joined the staff of a British hospital for French soldiers, serving briefly in 1915 as a hospital orderly, later publishing his own account of his experiences. After returning home, Masefield was invited to the United States on a three month lecture tour. When he returned to England, he submitted a report to the British Foreign Office, and suggested that he be allowed to write a book about the failure of the allied efforts in the Dardanelles, which possibly could be used in the US in order to counter what he thought was German propaganda there. As a result, Masefield wrote Gallipoli. This work was a success, encouraging the British people, and lifting them somewhat from the disappointment they had felt as a result of the Allied losses in the Dardanelles. In 1918, Masefield returned to America on his second lecture tour. During this tour, he matured as a public speaker and realized his ability to touch the emotions of his audience with his style of speaking, learning to speak publicly with his own heart, rather than from dry scripted speeches. Towards the end of his trip, both Yale and Harvard Universities conferred honorary Doctorates of Letters on him. Masefield encouraged the continued development of English literature and poetry, and began the annual awarding of the Royal Medals for Poetry for a first or second published edition of poetry by a poet under the age of 35. Additionally, his speaking engagements were calling him further away, often on much longer tours, yet he still produced a considerable amount of work. On 12 May 1967, John Masefield died, after having suffered through a spread of gangrene up his leg. According to his wishes, he was cremated and his ashes placed in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Masters, Edgar Lee (1868 - 1950), was born in Garnett, Kansas, where his father had briefly moved to set up a law practice. The family soon moved back to his paternal grandparents' farm near Petersburg in Menard County, Illinois. In 1880 they moved to Lewistown, Illinois, where he attended high school and had his first publication in the Chicago Daily News. The culture around Lewistown, in addition to the town's cemetery at Oak Hill, and the nearby Spoon River were the inspirations for many of his works, most notably Spoon River Anthology, his most famous and acclaimed work. Spoon River was Masters's revenge on small-town hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness. It gained a huge popularity, but shattered his position as a respectable member of the establishment. Masters attended The Knox Academy from 1889-1890, a preparatory program run by Knox College, but was forced to leave due to his family's inability to finance his education. After working in his father's law office, he was admitted to the Illinois bar and moved to Chicago, where he established a law partnership with Kickham Scanlan in 1893. He married twice. In 1898, he married Helen M. Jenkins, the daughter of a lawyer in Chicago, and had three children. During his law partnership with Clarence Darrow, from 1903 to 1908, Masters defended the poor. In 1911, he started his own law firm, despite the three years of unrest (1908-1911) due to extramarital affairs and an argument with Darrow. Two of his children followed him with literary careers. His daughter Marcia pursued poetry, while his son, Hilary Masters became a novelist. Hilary and his half-brother Hardin wrote a memoir of their father. Masters died at a nursing home on March 5, 1950, in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania.He is buried in Oakland cemetery in Petersburg, Illinois.
Matthews, William (1942 - 1997), born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 11, 1942, was educated at Yale University and the University of North Carolina. He was a professor of English and director of the writing program at the City University of New York.
Matthews published his first book of poetry in 1970, Ruining the New Road: Poems. Nine others followed during his lifetime, including A Happy Childhood (1984), Selected Poems and Translations, 1969–91 (1992), and Time & Money, New Poems, which received the 1996 National Book Critics Circle award for poetry. He won the Modern Poetry Association's 1997 Ruth Lilly Award. He was a former chairman of the literature panel of the National Endowment for the Arts and a former president of the Poetry Society of America. After All was published posthumously.
Maxwell, Glyn (b. 1962), English writer born in Hertfordshire. He studied English at Oxford before coming to the United States in 1987 to study poetry and drama at Boston University with the Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott. He has lived in the U.S. ever since, but his poetry straddles the Atlantic with its language and themes, dually inspired by the work of Robert Frost and W. H.Auden. His first book of poems, "Tale Of The Mayor’s Son" (1990), was chosen by the Poetry Society as a Poetry Book Society Choice. "Out Of The Rain" followed in 1992, winning the Somerset Maugham Award, and "Rest For The Wicked" in 1995. He has written a number of plays, all in verse, including "The Heart In Hiding", which got its professional début in London in 1995, and "Wolfpit: The Tale Of The Green Children Of Suffolk," in 1996. Three of his plays were published in 1993 as "Gnyss The Magnificent". They depict extraordinary scenarios: a dark and ruthless tyranny on the edge of a polluted wilderness; the fairytale house of three sisters menaced by an encroaching forest; and the magical Celtic world of the lovers Tristan and Isolde. Maxwell has also written a novel, "Blue Burneau" (1994). In 1997 he was awarded the E. M. Forster Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His latest poetry collection is "The Breakage" (1998). Joseph Brodsky has written, "Glyn Maxwell covers a greater distance in a single line than most people do in a poem. There is an extraordinary propulsion in his work, owing in part to his tendency to draw metaphor from the syntax itself. He is a poet of immense promise and unforgettable delivery." Glyn Maxwell lives with his wife and their daughter in Massachusetts, where he teaches at Amherst College.
McGinley, Phyllis (1905-1978) was born on March 21, 1905, in Ontario, Oregon. McGinley attended the University of Southern California and the University of Utah. She then taught school for several years. A writer of verses since childhood, she began submitting them to newspapers and magazines. Franklin P. Adams printed a few in his column, "The Conning Tower," in the New York Herald Tribune, and gradually McGinley's poetry began to appear also in The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, and other periodicals. After a stint as an advertising copywriter and another as poetry editor for Town and Country magazine, McGinley devoted herself to writing. Her first book of poems, On the Contrary (1934), was well received. It was followed by One More Manhattan (1937), Husbands Are Difficult (1941), Stones from Glass Houses (1946), and Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (1958), among others. Although her poetry is often dismissed as light verse, it is serious as well as witty. She upheld in her poetry the values she cherished, writing with delight of the suburban landscape. She wrote in masterfully controlled conventional form, and her great technical expertise gave her work the appearance of effortlessness. In 1961 her Times Three: Selected Verse from Three Decades (1960) was awarded the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. McGinley also wrote a number of books for children, including The Horse That Lived Upstairs (1944), All Around the Town (1948), Blunderbus (1951), The Make-Believe Twins (1953), Boys are Awful (1962), and How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas (1963). She also wrote the lyrics for a musical revue, Small Wonder, in 1948. In 1955, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Arts and Letters; in 1964 she was honored with the Laetare Medal by the University of Notre Dame (described as an honor to a man or woman who has enriched the heritage of humanity). She was also awarded a dozen honorary degrees. Her essays, first published in such magazines as Ladies' Home Journal and Reader's Digest are collected in Province of the Heart (1959); Sixpence in Her Shoe (1964), a popular series of autobiographical essays about being a wife in the suburbs; Wonderful Time (1966); and Saint Watching (1969). Her later collections of poems include Sugar and Spice (1960) and A Wreath of Christmas Legends (1967). McGinley died in New York City on February 22, 1978.
From Encyclopaedia Britannica
McGough, Roger, born in Liverpool in 1937, is one of Britain's best-known poetry voices. A superb live performer, who regularly leaves audiences clutching their metaphors, his entertaining spin on innocence, truth and the oddball can always be relied upon to bring a smile to the face of even the most moribund individual. Phrases used to describe the indescribable McGough include 'a trickster you can trust', 'a poetry party-thrower of distinction' and Liverpool's 'Poetry Sheriff'. He first came to prominence with fellow Liverpool poets and raconteurs Adrian Henri and Brian Patten in the all-time best selling modern poetry collection, ‘The Mersey Sound’, and the travelling live show ‘The Liverpool Scene’, in which they were joined by several other well known entertainers and musicians. A hugely successful stint with the hit pop/fun band The Scaffold, in which he was joined by John Gorman and Mike McGear (actually Paul’s bother Mike McCartney), followed with chart topping anthems such as ‘Lily The Pink’, and ‘Thank U Very Much’. He also wrote scripts, including the script for the Beatles' film Yellow Submarine and the lyrics for the Broadway production of The Wind in the Willows. Since then, he has largely concentrated on his poetry, publishing a series of critically acclaimed and highly successful collections including ‘Defying Gravity’, ’Blazing Fruit’, ‘You At The Back’, ‘Summer With Monika’, ‘Melting into the Foreground’, ‘Sporting Relations’, ‘The Spotted Unicorn’, ‘Bad Bad Cats’ and most recently, ‘The Way Things Are’. Roger McGough is “the patron saint of poetry”, according to one critic, while the ‘Daily Post’ portrays him as “Liverpool's own Poet Laureate” He is always “poking gentle fun at pretension and shining his poemy torch in dark corners”, according to Ian McMillan of ‘Poetry Review’, and full of “profound surprises and lasting images on almost every line” in the words of Siân Hughes of the ‘Times Educational Supplement’. He is a favorite with children, and reading his poetry to school groups is one of his favorite acts of subversion. 'Optimist, eco boxer, party-thrower & poet,' (as he refers to himself) McGough was awarded an OBE in 1997 and The Cholmondeley Award for Poetry in 1998.
McKay, Claude (1890-1948), American writer, born in Jamaica. McKay was one of the prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. After 1914 several of his poems, lyric works decrying injustice, were published in American periodicals. McKay's first novel, "Home to Harlem" (1928), a vivid picture of an African-American soldier's life in New York City after his return from World War I (1914-1918), was a popular success and the first U.S. bestseller by a black author. Other novels by McKay include "Banjo" (1929), a story of Marseilles; and "Banana Bottom" (1933). McKay's poetry and prose often explored African-American experience in the United States. His poems were published in the collections "Songs of Jamaica" (1911), "Constab Ballads" (1912), "Spring in New Hampshire and Other Poems" (1920), and "Harlem Shadows" (1922). He also wrote an autobiography, "A Long Way from Home" (1937), and a sociological study, "Harlem: Negro Metropolis" (1940)
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Merriam, Eve (1916-1992) was a poet, playwright, director, and lecturer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she attended Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin, Columbia University, and has has taught and lectured at many other institutions. Her first book, "Family Circle" (1946), was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Archibald MacLeish. In addition to her adult poetry, she has also written picture books and a number of books of poetry for children, including "There is No Rhyme for Silver" (1964), "It Doesn't Always Have to Rhyme" (1964), "The Inner City Mother Goose" (1969), "Catch a Little Rhyme" (1966), "Finding a Poem" (1970), "Out Loud" (1973), and "Rainbow Writing" (1976). The controversial "Inner City Mother Goose", which Merriam once referred to as "just about the most banned book in the country," was the basis for a 1971 Broadway musical, "Inner City", and a second musical production, "Street Dreams" (1982), which was performed in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. In 1981, she was named the winner of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.
(From the Academy of American Poetry: http://www.poets.org/lit/poet/emerriam.htm)
Merrill, James (1926-1995) was born in New York City to the well-known brokerage family, and grew up in Manhattan and Southampton. At the age of eight, he was already writing poems, and at age sixteen his father had a book of them privately printed under the title Jim's Book. He attended Amherst College, where he studied under Reuben Bower. There he first met Robert Frost. His studies were interrupted by service in the Army in 1944-45. Another book, The Black Swan, was privately printed while he was still in college, in 1946, and in 1947 he graduated summa cum laude. He went on to teach for a year at Bard College, then spent the next two-and-a-half years traveling Europe – a period described in his 1993 memoir, A Different Person. "First Poems" was published in 1951 to great acclaim. In 1955 he moved to the small coastal town of Stonington, Connecticut, with his companion David Jackson. In 1956 he used his inheritance to found the Ingram Merrill Foundation, which has since awarded grants to hundreds of artists and writers. His first novel, the semi-autobiographical Seraglio, was published in 1957. Two years later, he and his partner moved to Athens, where they spent part of each year until 1979. Merrill's second novel, The (Diblos) Notebook (1965) was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, and the following year his Nights and Days won the National Book Award in Poetry. He went on to earn many awards for his poetry, including the Bollingen Prize for Braving the Elements (1972), the Pulitzer Prize for Divine Comedies (composed with the help of a Ouija board; 1976), the National Book Award for Mirabell (1978), the National Book Critics Circle Award for his epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover (1982), and the first Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry awarded by the Library of Congress for The Inner Room (1988). James Merrill died in February, 1995 of an AIDS-related heart attack, while on vacation in Arizona. His last book, A Scattering of Salts, was published a month later.
(From the Academy of American Poetry: http://www.poets.org/lit/poet/emerriam.htm)
Merwin, W.S., was born in New York City in 1927. He is the author of more than fifteen books of poetry, including The River Sound (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Flower and Hand: Poems 1977-1983 (1997); The Vixen (1996); Travels (1993), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Second Four Books of Poems (1993); The Rain in the Trees (1988); Selected Poems (1988); The Carrier of Ladders (1970), which received the Pulitzer Prize; The Lice (1967); and A Mask for Janus (1952), which was selected by W.H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He has also published nearly twenty books of translation, including Dante's Purgatorio (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000); numerous plays; and four books of prose, including The Lost Upland (1992), his memoir of life in the south of France. His honors include the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Bollingen Prize, a Ford Foundation grant, the Governor's Award for Literature of the State of Hawaii, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the PEN Translation Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He recently began a five-year term as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He lives and works in Hawaii.
From the Academy of American Poets web site.
Millay, Edna St. Vincent (1892-1950), American poet, who used traditional verse forms in the expression of simple, strong emotions. Millay was born in Rockland, Maine, and educated at Vassar College. In 1917 her collection Renascence and Other Poems was published. She wrote several plays for the experimental theater group the Provincetown Players, notably Aria da Capo (1919), a satirical fantasy on war. Millay's major efforts were devoted to lyric poetry in A Few Figs from Thistles (1920), Second April (1921), and The Ballad of the Harp Weaver (1922; Pulitzer Prize for poetry, 1923). Her later poetry is marked by greater social consciousness but shows less lyric power. The Murder of Lidice (1942) is a ballad written for radio. Millay's mastery of the sonnet form is best illustrated in Collected Sonnets (1941) and Collected Lyrics (1943). The thoughts in her poetry are rarely original or complex, but because some of them were unfamiliar to many Americans, she acquired a reputation for novelty and vitality.
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Milligan, "Spike" (1918-2002) was born in Ahmednagar, India. Though he lived most of his life in England and served in the British Army, he was declared stateless in 1960, and took Irish citizenship. He suffered from bipolar disorder for most of his life, having at least ten mental breakdowns. He was a strident campaigner on environmental matters, particularly arguing against unnecessary noise. He served in the Royal Artillery in World War II in North Africa and also Italy, where he was hospitalized for shell shock. During most of the 1930s and early 1940s he performed as a jazz trumpeter and did comedy sketches. He began to write parodies of mainstream plays, that displayed many of the key elements of what would become The Goon Show with Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine. He was the primary author of The Goon Show scripts (though many were written jointly with Eric Sykes) as well as a star performer, and is considered the father of modern British comedy, having inspired countless writers and performers with his work on The Goon Show and his own Q series, including Monty Python's Flying Circus. Writing a show a week affected his health greatly and caused him to have a series of nervous breakdowns. On one occasion, Peter Sellers had to lock his door against a knife-wielding Milligan; on another, Sellers and Harry Secombe broke into Milligan's dressing room, fearing he was suicidal. Eventually lithium was found to be the most effective treatment.
Milligan had a number of acting parts in theatre, film and television series, and wrote nonsense verse for children, the best of which is comparable with that of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, and (while depressed) serious poetry. He also wrote a very successful series of war memoirs, including Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (1971) and Rommel? Gunner Who? A Confrontation in the Desert (1976). He also wrote comedy songs, including Purple Aeroplane, which was a parody of The Beatles' song, Yellow Submarine. The Prince of Wales was a noted fan, and Milligan caused a stir by calling him a "little grovelling bastard" on television in 1994. He later faxed the prince, saying "I suppose a knighthood is out of the question?". A knighthood (honorary because of his Irish citizenship) was finally awarded in 2000.
Even late in life, Milligan's black humour had not deserted him. After the death of friend Harry Secombe from cancer, he said, "I'm glad he died before me, because I didn't want him to sing at my funeral". A recording of Secombe singing was played at Milligan's memorial service. In a BBC poll in August 1999, Spike Milligan was voted the "funniest person of the last 1000 years". He died from liver disease, at the age of 83, on February 27, 2002, at his home in Rye, East Sussex.
Milosz, Czeslaw, poet, novelist, essayist and translator, was born in 1911 in what was then the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a part of Russia. His family was of the Polish-speaking gentry, a class that was politically and economically ruined by the time of Milosz's birth. Milosz's father was a highway engineer for the tsar's army from 1914 to 1918 and the family travelled throughout Russia when Milosz was a child. The chaos of his early wanderings through war-torn Russia, countered by the peace he remembers in the pastoral setting of a Lithuanian river valley, would later become a frequent subject of his poetry and prose. Milosz was a student in the 1920s in Wilno (then in Poland; today, Vilnius, capital of Lithuania). He began publishing poetry in the 1930s. In 1939, during the first days of the Second World War, he was sent to the front as a radio operator. In January 1940 he returned to Wilno and was caught there when Soviet tanks entered the city. In July he escaped across Soviet lines into Poland, a dangerous journey through both Soviet- and Nazi-occupied territories. This was the last time for over forty years that he would see his native Lithuania. Milosz spent the years 1940-44 in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. He continued to write, editing a volume of anti-Nazi poetry. After the failure of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, he and his wife escaped to Krakow. Later that year, he published his first postwar collection, Rescue. Milosz became a diplomatic attaché for the new government of the People's Republic of Poland. From 1946 to 1950 he worked in New York and Washington. However, the Polish leadership was becoming less indulgent of his public ambivalence toward Communism. In December 1950 he returned, on a holiday, to Warsaw, where the Polish authorities took away his passport, effectively imprisoning him in Communist Poland. In January 1951, however, Milosz was allowed to return to work in Paris, where he sought political asylum, thus beginning his life in exile. In 1953 Milosz wrote The Captive Mind, perhaps his most famous work in the West. In the book's introduction, he describes its subject as "the vulnerability of the twentieth-century mind to seduction by ideological doctrines and its readiness to accept totalitarian terror for the sake of a hypothetical future". In 1960 Milosz began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. He became a full professor there in 1961, and for the next twenty years combined his writing with teaching courses. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In June of 1981, Milosz returned to Poland for the first time since his exile in 1951. Soon after his return, the Polish presses began to publish the first volumes of Milosz's work available in Poland since his writings were banned in the 1950s. Since 1989 Milosz divided his time between Berkeley and Krakow. His poetry is written in Polish, and translated into English by himself or with his collaboration. He died in August, 2004 in Krakow.
Milton, John (1608-1674), English poet, whose verse was a powerful influence on succeeding English poets, and whose prose was devoted to the defense of civil and religious liberty. Milton is often considered the greatest English poet after William Shakespeare.
Milton was born in London and attended Christ's College, University of Cambridge. From 1632 to 1638 he lived in his father's country home, reading the Latin and Greek classics and ecclesiastical and political history. From 1638 to 1639 he toured France and Italy, and on his return to England, he settled in London and began writing a series of social, religious, and political tracts. Milton supported the parliamentary cause in the English Civil War (1642-1649), and in 1649 he was appointed foreign secretary by the government of the Commonwealth. He became totally blind about 1652 and thereafter carried on his literary and government work helped by assistants. After the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660, Milton was briefly imprisoned for his support of Parliament.
Milton's career as a writer can be divided into three periods. The first, from 1625 to 1640, was the period of such early works as the sonnet "On Shakespeare" (1630), "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso" (both probably 1631), and the elegy Lycidas (1637). His second period, from 1640 to 1660, was devoted chiefly to the writing of numerous social, political, and religious tracts, the most famous of which is Areopagitica (1644), an impassioned plea for freedom of the press. He also wrote pamphlets to justify the execution of King Charles I. During the third period of Milton's career, from 1660 to 1674, he completed his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667) and wrote the companion epic Paradise Regained (1671) and the poetic drama Samson Agonistes (1671). Paradise Lost, in which Milton recounts the story of the fall of Adam in a context of cosmic drama, is considered Milton's masterpiece and one of the greatest poems in world literature.
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Moore, Marianne (Craig) (1887-1972), American poet, noted for using the stanza as the basic unit of her poetry. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Moore developed her own rhyme patterns and verse forms using the arrangement of syllables as the base for her meter. Her work is descriptive and reflective and it often gives minutely detailed descriptions of landscapes, animals, or objects.
Moore's first collection of verse was Poems (1921). Later works include Observations (1924), The Pangolin and Other Verse (1936), What Are Years? (1941), Collected Poems (1951; Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, 1952), Like a Bulwark (1956), and Tell Me, Tell Me (1966). Moore's translation of Fables by the French author Jean de la Fontaine appeared in 1954. The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore was published in 1967.
Montague, John (b. 1929), Irish poet born in Brooklyn, New York, of recently-immigrated Irish parents. Born into the teeth of the Great Depression, John and his brothers were sent back to Ireland in 1933 with the hope of a better life. He grew up in Ulster, and in 1946 went south to University College in Dublin. In 1953 John received a Fulbright Scholarship to Yale, where he studied literature with Robert Penn Warren. His talent was also recognized by John Crowe Ransom, who encouraged further studies. After a year of graduate studies at Berkeley, Montague returned to Ireland, marrying and settling in Dublin. Here he published his first book of poems, "Poisoned Lands", in 1961. Montague then moved to Paris, where he became friendly with Samuel Beckett. Here he published his second book of poems, "A Chosen Light" (1967), followed by "Tides" in 1970. In 1972 his long poem, "The Rough Field", was finished, and Montague returned to Ireland to live and teach in Cork. Further collections include "A Slow Dance" (1975), "The Great Cloak" (1978), "Selected Poems" (1982), "Mount Eagle" (1989), "Time in Armagh" (1993), and "The Collected Poems" (1995). Montague has received numerous honors. He serves as Distinguished Writer-in-Residence for the New York State Writers Institute during each spring semester, teaching workshops in fiction and poetry and a class in the English Department, University at Albany.
Morgan, Edwin (1920-2010), poet laureate of Glasgow, Scotland, was born in Glasgow and lived there his entire life. During World War II he served in the Middle East with the Royal Army Medical Corps. After the war, Morgan returned to Glasgow to complete his MA degree in English at Glasgow University. He was appointed Assistant Lecturer at Glasgow, eventually becoming Titular Professor in English. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1980. He later worked as a Visiting Professor at Strathclyde University (1987-1990) and also at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (1991-1995). His first book, "The Vision of Cathkin Braes and Other Poems", was published to critical acclaim in 1952. Honours include awards for translation, honorary degrees from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Loughborough, Stirling and Waikato, New Zealand and an OBE (1982). His output was prolific, including criticism, plays, libretti and poetry translation ranging from Anglo-Saxon to Russian and Hungarian, as well as the formidable collections of his own poetry. His widely-varied work is mostly characterised by an enjoyment of media and fascination with the strangeness of familiar subjects. While earlier poems were more strictly separated into formal experimentation, like the concrete poems of "The Second Life" (1968) or more traditional forms, like the 'Glasgow Sonnets' of "From Glasgow to Saturn" (1973), later collections thrive on a fusion of approaches, taking both audible and visible enjoyment in serious game-playing. Edwin Morgan died of pneumonia in Glasgow on August 17, 2010.
(From various sources.)
Morley, Christopher (1890-1957), American writer whose versatile works are lighthearted, vigorous displays of the English language. Morley was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania. His father was a mathematician and his mother a musician and poet. The young Morley studied at Haverford College (B.A., 1910) and was a Rhodes scholar at New College, Oxford (1910-13). Over the years he found success in several fields. He gained popularity with his literary columns in the New York Evening Post (1920-24) and the Saturday Review of Literature (1924-41) and from collections of essays and columns such as Shandygaff (1918). His novels include the innovative "The Trojan Horse" (1937), a combination of prose, verse, and dramatic dialogue that satirized human devotion to luxury, and the sentimental best-seller "Kitty Foyle" (1939), about an office girl and a socialite youth. "The Old Mandarin" (1947) is a collection of witty free verse. Morley also edited "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations" (1937, 1948). He died at Roslyn Heights, Long Island, New York, on March 28, 1957.
Nash, (Frederic) Ogden (1902-1971), American humorist, born in Rye, New York, and educated at Harvard University. Nash's comic verse ranges from lighthearted to bitter and at times is completely and hilariously nonsensical. He often used startling rhymes and puns, asymmetrical lines, and highly amusing parenthetical statements to create opportunities for surprising rhymes. Nash's collections of verse include Free Wheeling (1931), Hard Lines (1931), Happy Days (1933), The Bad Parent's Garden of Verse (1936), I'm a Stranger Here Myself (1938), Good Intentions (1942), Versus (1949), Family Reunion (1950), Parents Keep Out (1951), The Moon Is Shining Bright as Day (1953), The Private Dining Room (1953), You Can't Get There from Here (1957), Everyone but Thee and Me (1962), Marriage Lines (1964), Cruise of the Aardvark (1967), and There's Always Another Windmill (1968).
Nash also wrote the musical comedy One Touch of Venus (1943) in collaboration with the American humorist S. J. Perelman and the German-American composer Kurt Weill.
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Nemerov, Howard (1920-1991) To "see in a thinking way" has been Howard Nemerov's ambition. The variety of his work defeats easy classification. His darkly witty or sardonic poems stand beside searchingly romantic ones. Lyrical, observant metaphors give way to ironic, intellectual brooding. Above all, like Robert Frost or W.H. Auden, Nemerov is a contemplative poet, taking long, often skeptical views of modern society and traditional values. He wants both to display and to test the power of the mind as it threads a way through the maze of experience: "to make some mind of what was only sense." Nemerov was born in New York City and graduated from Harvard in 1941. During World War II he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and then the U.S. Army Air Force. He began teaching in 1946. His first volume of poetry, "The Image and the Law", was published the next year. He taught at Bennington, Brandeis, and since 1969 at Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to 13 volumes of poetry, his works include novels, stories and a notable body of criticism. He was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1977. In 1978 his "Collected Poems" was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; in 1981 he received the Bollingen Prize. In 1988 he was named the nation's third poet laureate.
© J.D. McClatchy in "The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry", and other sources.
Noyes, Alfred (1880-1958) Alfred Noyes was born in Wolverhampton, England. His father, a grocer and a teacher, taught Noyes Latin and Greek. Noyes attended Exeter College, Oxford, but left before he earned a degree. At the age of twenty-one he published his first collection of poems, The Loom Years (1902), which received praise from respected poets such as William Butler Yeats and George Meredith. Between 1903 and 1908, Noyes published five volumes of poetry including The Forest of Wild Thyme (1905) and The Flower of Old Japan and Other Poems (1907). In his early work, Noyes claimed he was seeking to "follow the careless and happy feet of children back into the kingdom of those dreams which...are the sole reality worth living and dying for; those beautiful dreams, or those fantastic jests." His books were widely reviewed and were published both in Britain and the United States. Among his best-known poems from this time are "The Highwayman" and "Drake." "Drake," which appeared serially in Blackwood's Magazine, was a two-hundred page epic about life at sea. Both in style and subject, the poem shows a clear influence of Romantic poets such as Tennyson and Wordsworth. In 1907, Noyes married Garnett Daniels. They had three children. His increasing popularity allowed the family to live off royalty checks. In 1914, Noyes accepted a teaching position at Princeton University, where he taught English Literature until 1923. He was a noted critic of modernist writers, particularly James Joyce. Likewise, his work at this time was criticized by some for its refusal to embrace the modernist movement. In 1922 he began an epic called The Torch Bearers, which was published in three volumes (Watchers of the Sky, 1922; The Book of Earth, 1925; and The Last Voyage, 1930). The book arose out of his visit to a telescope located at Mount Wilson, California and attempted to reconcile his views of science with religion. His wife died in 1926 and Noyes turned increasingly to Catholicism and religious themes in his later books, particularly The Unknown God (1934) and If Judgment Comes (1941). During the World War II, Noyes lived in Canada and America and was a strong advocate of the Allied effort. In 1949, he returned to Britain. As a result of increasing blindness, Noyes dictated all of his subsequent work. His autobiography, Two Worlds for Memory, was published in 1953. Alfred Noyes died on June 25, 1958, and was buried on Isle of Wight.
O'Hara, Frank (1926-1966), American poet, born in Baltimore. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, O'Hara attended Harvard University where he took writing classes from John Ciardi and graduated in 1950. The next year he earned an M.A. at the University of Michigan. His collection of poems, "A Byzantine Place," and "Try! Try!", a verse play, won O'Hara the Avery Hopwood Major Award in poetry. After moving to New York, O'Hara and his partner John Ashbery became part of the avant-garde art scene. In 1952 O'Hara's "A City Winter and Other Poems" was published, a collection of thirteen poems. O'Hara's first collection of poetry to receive wide recognition was "Meditations in an Emergency" (1957), the collection for which he was primarily known during his lifetime. In 1960 he published the collections "Second Avenue" and "Odes". Perhaps the most significant event in O'Hara's writing career occurred that year, when Donald Allen published "The New American Poetry: 1945-1960". O'Hara, identified by Allen as part of the New York School of poetry, was a dominant poet in the anthology, with fifteen of his poems included. Two more collections were published during his lifetime: "Lunch Poems" (1964) and "Love Poems" (1965). Several more volumes of O'Hara's poems were published after his death, notably "The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara" (1971), "The Selected Poems of Frank O'Hara" (1974), and "Poems Retrieved: 1950-1966" (1977). O'Hara sought to capture in his poetry the immediacy of life. He was inspired and energized by New York City. In "Meditations" he wrote, "I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy ... or some other sign that people do not totally regret life." O'Hara died of injuries he received when he was hit by a vehicle on Long Island, New York.
© 1999 by the American Council of Learned Societies.
Ortiz, Simon (b.1941) was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is a Native American writer of the Acoma Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the second wave of what has been called the Native American Renaissance. He is one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets. Ortiz, a full-blooded Acoma Pueblo, is a member of the Eagle or "Dyaamih" Clan. He was raised in the Acoma village of McCartys (or "Deetzeyaamah"), and spoke only Keresan at home. His father was an elder in the clan who was charged with keeping the religious knowledge and customs of the pueblo. Ortiz attended McCartys Day School through the sixth grade, after which he was sent to St. Catherine's Indian School in Santa Fe as most Native children were sent to Indian boarding schools at the time. Attempting to provide an English language education, such boarding schools sought to assimilate Native American children into American mainstream culture, and strictly forbade them to speak their own native languages. Thus, the young Ortiz began to struggle with an acute awareness of the cultural dissonance that was shaping him and began to write about his experiences and thoughts in his diaries and compose short stories. While frustrated with his situation, he became a voracious reader while at school and developed a passionate love of language, reading whatever he could get his hands on—including dictionaries, which he felt let his mind travel within a "state of wonder." After graduating fromHigh School in Grants, New Mexico, Ortiz began work as a laborer at a uranium plant. His experience as a mining laborer would later inspire his monumental work, Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, for the Sake of the Land. Ortiz eventually enrolled in Fort Lewis College as a chemistry major with the help of a BIA educational grant. While enthralled with language and literature, the young Ortiz never considered pursuing writing seriously; at the time, it was not a career that seemed viable for Native people. After a three-year stint in the U.S. military, Ortiz returned to college at University of New Mexico. There, he discovered few ethnic voices within the American literature canon and began to pursue writing as a way to express the generally unheard Native American voice that was only beginning to emerge in the midst of political activism. Two years later, in 1968, he received a fellowship for writing at the University of Iowa in the International Writers Program. In 1988 he was appointed as tribal interpreter for Acoma Pueblo, and in 1989 he became First Lieutenant Governor for the pueblo. In 1982, he became a consulting editor of the Pueblo of Acoma Press. Since 1968, Ortiz has taught creative writing and Native American literature at various institutions, including San Diego State, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Navajo Community College, the College of Marin, the University of New Mexico, Sinte Gleska University (one of the first U.S. tribal colleges) , and the University of Toronto. He currently teaches at Arizona State University. Ortiz is a recipient of the New Mexico Humanities Council Humanitarian Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Discovery Award, the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Writer's Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and was an Honored Poet recognized at the 1981 White House Salute to Poetry. That year, From Sand Creek: Rising In This Heart Which Is Our America, received the Pushcart Prize in poetry. Ortiz also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers.
Ostriker, Alicia Suskin(b.1937) is an American poet and scholar who writes Jewish feminist poetry. Ostriker was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother read her Shakespeare, and Alicia began writing poems at an early age. Ostriker holds a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University (1959), and an M.A. (1961) and Ph.D. (1964) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her doctoral dissertation, on the work of William Blake, became her first book, Vision and Verse in William Blake (1965). She began her teaching career at Rutgers University in 1965 and has served as a professor of English there since 1972. In 1969 her first collection of poems, Songs, was published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Her fourth book of poems, The Mother-Child Papers (1980), a feminist classic, was inspired by the birth of her son during the Vietnam War; throughout, she juxtaposes musings about motherhood with musings about war. Ostriker's books of nonfiction explore many of the same themes manifest in her verse. They include Writing Like A Woman (1983), which explores the poems of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, H.D., May Swenson and Adrienne Rich, and The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions (1994), which approaches the Torah with a midrashic sensibility. She wrote the introduction to the collected works of Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi entitled Empire of Dreams (1994). Ostriker’s sixth collection of poems, The Imaginary Lover (1986), won the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America. The Crack in Everything (1996) was a National Book Award finalist, and won the Paterson Poetry Award and the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award. The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998 was also a 1998 National Book Award finalist. Ostriker’s most recent nonfiction book is Dancing at the Devil’s Party (2000), where she examines the work of poets from Walt Whitman to Maxine Kumin. Early in the introduction to the book, she disagrees with W. H. Auden’s assertion that poetry makes nothing happen. Poetry, Ostriker writes, "can tear at the heart with its claws, make the neural nets shiver, flood us with hope, despair, longing, ecstasy, love, anger, terror.” Ostriker currently teaches poetry in New England College's Low-Residency MFA Program.
Owen, Wilfred (1893-1918), English poet, known for his war poetry. After enlisting in the army, Owen entered World War I in January 1917. He fought in the second Battle of the Somme but was hospitalized for shell shock that May. In the hospital he met Siegfried Sassoon, a poet and novelist whose antiwar works were in harmony with Owen's own concerns. Under Sassoon's care, Owen began producing the best work of his short career.
Owen's considerable body of war poetry expresses passionately his outrage at the horrors of war and his pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it. His poems are finely structured and innovative, and his use of half-rhyme creates a dissonant, disturbing quality that amplifies his themes. Only four of Owen's poems were published during his lifetime.[Encarta® 98 Desk Encyclopedia © 1996-97 Microsoft Corporation.]
From the Introduction by Siegfried Sassoon to Owens' posthumous book of poems:
His conclusions about War are so entirely in accordance with my own that I cannot attempt to judge his work with any critical detachment. I can only affirm that he was a man of absolute integrity of mind. He never wrote his poems (as so many war-poets did) to make the effect of a personal gesture. He pitied others; he did not pity himself. In the last year of his life he attained a clear vision of what he needed to say, and these poems survive him as his true and splendid testament.
Wilfred Owen was born at Oswestry on 18th March 1893. He was educated at the Birkenhead Institute, and matriculated at London University in 1910. In 1913 he obtained a private tutorship near Bordeaux, where he remained until 1915. During this period he became acquainted with the eminent French poet, Laurent Tailhade, to whom he showed his early verses, and from whom he received considerable encouragement. In 1915, in spite of delicate health, he joined the Artists' Rifles O.T.C., was gazetted to the Manchester Regiment, and served with their 2nd Battalion in France from December 1916 to June 1917, when he was invalided home. Fourteen months later he returned to the Western Front and served with the same Battalion, ultimately commanding a Company.
He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry while taking part in some heavy fighting on 1st October. He was killed on 4th November 1918, while endeavouring to get his men across the Sambre Canal. A month before his death he wrote to his mother: "My nerves are in perfect order. I came out again in order to help these boys; directly, by leading them as well as an officer can; indirectly, by watching their sufferings that I may speak of them as well as a pleader can." Let his own words be his epitaph: --
"Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
And from Owen's unfinished Foreword:
This book is not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, dominion or power, except War.
Above all, this book is not concerned with Poetry.
Page, P.K. P.K.Page was born in England in 1916, and came to Canada in 1919, where she was brought up on the Canadian prairies. Educated in England, Calgary, and Winnipeg, and studied art in Brazil and New York. Under the name P.K. Irwin her paintings and drawings have been exhibited widely. As scriptwriter for the National Film Board, her script for the animated film, Teeth Are To Keep, won an award at Cannes. She lived out of Canada for many years with her diplomat-husband, Arthur Irwin, before returning to Victoria, British Columbia. She was the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, including three books for children. Among other honours, she won the Governor General's Award for poetry for The Metal and the Flower (1954). P.K. Page was the author of The Sun and the Moon, (novel), 1944, pseud. Judith Cape; As Ten as Twenty, (poetry), 1946; The Metal and the Flower, (poetry), 1954; Cry Ararat!--Poems New and Selected, 1967; The Sun and the Moon and Other Fictions, 1973; Poems Selected and New, 1974; ed. To Say the Least, (anthology of short poems), 1979; Evening Dance of the Grey Flies, (poems and a short story), 1981; The Glass Air, (poetry, essays and drawings), 1985; Brazilian Journal, (prose - with drawings), 1988; I--Sphinx, A Poem for Two Voices, for the CBC; A Flask of Sea Water, (fairy story), 1989; The Glass Air - Poems Selected and New, 1991; The Travelling Musicians (children's book), 1991; Unless the Eye Catch Fire,(short story), 1994; The Goat that Flew (sequel to A Flask of Sea Water), 1994; Hologram - A Book of Glosas (poems), 1994; A Children's Hymn, music by Harry Somers, 1995; The Hidden Room -Collected Poems, 1997. Also poems, short stories, essays, art criticism, drawings, in various magazines and anthologies in Canada, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Holland, China, etc. P.K.Page died in Victoria on January 14, 2010.
From the Univ. of Toronto web site, with additional material.
Parker, Dorothy (1893-1967), American writer, whose poems and short stories are characterized by a bitingly humorous and sardonic style. Born in West End, New Jersey, Parker was educated at the Blessed Sacrament Convent, in New York City. From 1916 to 1920 she was a drama and literary critic for the magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair in New York City, after which she became a free-lance writer. Parker was a member of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers and artists that gathered regularly during the 1920s and 1930s at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. The group included such American writers as George S. Kaufman, Robert E. Sherwood, Marc Connelly, Heywood Broun, and Robert Benchley and was known for witty conversation and verbal sparring. Parker's writings are concerned mainly with love and with the frustrations and contradictions of modern life. Her books of verse include Death and Taxes (1931) and Not So Deep as a Well (1936); she also wrote the short story collections Laments for the Living (1930) and After Such Pleasures (1933). Constant Reader (posthumously published, 1970) comprises book reviews she wrote for the New Yorker magazine from 1927 to 1933 under the pseudonym Constant Reader.
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Paterson, Andrew Barton "Banjo" (1864–1941), Australian poet, was born in New South Wales, the son of a Scottish immigrant. Here he became acquainted with the colourful bush characters that he wrote about in later years. At 16 he signed on as clerk with a Sydney lawyer, training for the legal profession. He began publishing ballads in "The Bulletin" in February 1885, the beginning of a long relationship with this newspaper. His pseudonym, "The Banjo", was the name of a racehorse his father had owned. Not until 1895, on the publication of "The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses", did the public discover the name of the popular balladeer. In 1900 the Sydney Morning Herald sent him as war correspondent to the Boer War in South Africa, and in 1901, he reported on the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion in China. He went from there to London, where he renewed his friendship with Rudyard Kipling, whom he had met in South Africa. In 1902, his second collection was published, "Rio Grande's Last Race and Other Verses". In 1903, he became editor of the Sydney Evening News. In 1906, he published the novel "An Outback Marriage". In 1914 Paterson joined the Australian army, ending up as a major in a unit of horsemen that trained mounts for the cavalry. In 1917, his third collection was published, "Saltbush Bill, J.P. and Other Verses". In 1919 Paterson returned to Sydney as a freelance journalist. In 1922 he became editor of The Sydney Sportsman, a weekly sporting newspaper, to which he also contributed ballads and essays. In 1933 he published a delightful collection of children's poetry, "The Animals Noah Forgot". From 1934 he also published "Happy Dispatches", memoirs of his wartime experiences, and a novel "The Shearer's Colt", which reflects his love of horse-racing. In 1939 Paterson was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for his services to Australian literature. He is venerated in Australia, and not just as the author of the ballad "Waltzing Mathilda." His likeness adorns the Australian $10 note.
Patten, Brian, was born in Liverpool’s dockland in 1946. At the age of fifteen, he began publishing a magazine called Underdog. It was the first magazine to publish seriously many of the then ‘underground’ poets, and had a direct influence on the numerous broadsheets and magazines that followed, and on the movement for popularising poetry that stemmed from Liverpool in the 60s. Written off as a flash-in-the-pan by the literary establishment who poured scorn on the 'Liverpool Poets' (who, in addition to Patten, included Roger McGough and Adrian Henri), it is only recently that his contribution to the genuine resurgence in the popularity of poetry and poetry performance in Britain and Europe has been appreciated. Patten's collections of humorous poetry for children are among the best selling children's poetry books in Britain. With his mixture of serious and humorous work, few poets can equal Patten in performance. He has given readings in places as varied as The Islam Students Union in Khartoum and the Royal Albert Hall in London, and read with such respected poets as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, and Stevie Smith. His most recently available books for adults are published by Flamingo (HarperCollins) and include Love Poems, Grinning Jack, Storm Damage, and Armada. His books for children include Gargling with Jelly, Thawing Frozen Frogs, Juggling with Gerbils, and the award-winning novel Mr.Moon’s Last Case (Mystery Writers of America Award). With translations into numerous languages including Italian, Spanish, and Polish, he is acknowledged as one of Europe’s foremost poets. He lives between London and the village of Dittisham in Devon.
Percy, William Alexander (1885-1942), was a lawyer, planter, and poet from Greenville, Mississippi. His autobiography Lanterns on the Levee (Knopf 1941) became a bestseller. His father LeRoy Percy was the last United States Senator from Mississippi elected by the legislature. And in that largely Protestant state, William championed the Roman Catholicism of his French mother. Percy attended the Episcopal University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, a postbellum tradition in his family, spent a year in Paris and then earned a law degree from Harvard and practiced law in his father's firm in Greenville. Percy joined the Commission for Relief in Belgium in November 1916 and served in Belgium as a delegate until the withdrawal of American personnel upon the U.S. declaration of war in April 1917. He served in the US Army in World War I, earning the rank of Captain and the Croix de Guerre. From 1925 to 1932 he edited the Yale Young Poets series, the first of its kind in the country. He also published four volumes of poetry himself with the Yale University Press. A Southern man of letters, Percy befriended many fellow writers, Southern, Northern and European, including William Faulkner. He socialized with Langston Hughes and other people in and about the Harlem Renaissance. Will was a sort of godfather to the Fugitives, or Southern Agrarians, as John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren were often called, at Vanderbilt. Percy's most well known work is his memoir, Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son (Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1941). His other works include the text of "They Cast Their Nets in Galilee," which is included in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 (Hymn 661), and the Collected Poems (Knopf 1943). One piece by Percy is included under the name A.W. Percy in Men and Boys, an anonymous anthology of Uranian poetry (New York, 1934). A friend of Herbert Hoover from the Belgium Relief Effort during the early years of World War I, he was put in charge of relief during the great flood of 1927, when an area larger than all New England (minus Maine) was inundated. During the flood, thousands of blacks fleeing inundated farms and plantations sought refuge on the levee in Greenville. Percy believed that they needed to be evacuated to Vicksburg, Mississippi and ships were prepared to remove them. However, local planters, including Percy's own father, opposed this decision, believing that if the blacks were removed from the area, they would never return. Percy capitulated and the ships left Greenville empty. Thereafter, conditions on the levee deteriorated and Percy received his share of negative press. He later resigned his post and left for a trip to Japan the following day. Percy never married, and it was widely assumed by many of his contemporaries, though hardly ever mentioned, that he was gay. His cousin William Armstrong Percy wrote extensively about his cousin's sexuality. The William Alexander Percy Library in Greenville, Mississippi is named for him.
Phillips, Stephen (1864-1915), British poet and verse-dramatist, born at Somerton, near Oxford, educated at Peterborough Grammar School. He became an actor with a Shakespearian company run by his cousin Frank R. Benson and played leading roles in numerous tragedies. His earlier collections of poetry include Eremus (1894) and Christ in Hades (1896); Poems (1898) gained him a considerable reputation and was reprinted fourteen times by 1904. Phillips's shorter poems tend towards the morbidly sensual lyricism of the Decadents. His longer narrative works frequently display the melodramatic fatalism typified by his ‘The Woman with the Dead Soul’. Among his later collections were The New Inferno (1911) and Panama (1915). Paolo and Francesca (1898) was the first of his numerous verse-dramas; its considerable success led to increasingly spectacular and highly successful productions of his subsequent plays, which include Herod (1901), Ulysses (1902), and Nero (1906). His adaptation of Goethe's Faust (1908, with J. C. Carr) was, however, considered excessively extravagant in production and his fortunes entered a decline. He resumed his activities as a poet and took over the editorship of Poetry Review from Harold Monro in 1913, dying in greatly reduced circumstances in 1915. Read more: Stephen Phillips Biography - (1864–1915), Eremus, Christ in Hades, Poems, The New Inferno, Panama, Paolo and Francesca, Herod, Ulysses, Nero http://www.jrank.org/literature/pages/5377/Stephen-Phillips.html#ixzz0iaaB8dPE
Plath, Sylvia (1932-1963), American poet, whose work is known for its savage imagery and themes of self-destruction. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts. [In 1955, having been awarded a Fulbright scholarship, she began two years at Cambridge University. There she met and married the British poet Ted Hughes and settled in England.] Her first book of poetry, The Colossus (1960), revealed her meticulously crafted, intensely personal style. Ariel (1965), written during the year before her suicide, is considered to contain Plath's finest poems. As with all her poetry published after she died, this volume reflects increasing self-absorption and an obsession with death. The Bell Jar (1963), is an autobiographical account of a young woman's mental breakdown in response to the constrictions on her life in the United States in the 1950s. Plath's other posthumously published works include the collections of poetry Crossing the Water (1971), Winter Trees (1972), and The Collected Poems (1981; Pulitzer Prize, 1982).
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Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849), American writer, most famous as the first master of the short-story form, especially tales of the mysterious and macabre. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe was orphaned in his early childhood and was raised by John Allan of Richmond, Virginia. In 1827, estranged from his foster father, Poe went to Boston. There his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), was published anonymously. In 1829 his second volume of verse, Al Aaraaf, was published. Poe's third book, Poems, appeared in 1831. The following year he moved to Baltimore, where he lived with his aunt and his cousin, Virginia Clemm, whom he married in 1836. From 1835 to 1837 Poe was an editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. Throughout the next decade, Poe worked as an editor for various periodicals. In 1847 Virginia died and Poe himself became ill; his disastrous addiction to liquor and his alleged use of drugs, may have contributed to his early death. About a dozen of Poe's poems are remarkable for their flawless literary construction and for their haunting themes and meters and include, "The Raven" (1845), "The Bells" (1849), and "Annabel Lee" (1849). In addition to his poetry, Poe's prose works are considered the first detective stories. Perhaps the best-known tale in this genre is "The Gold Bug" (1843). "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841) and "The Purloined Letter" (1844) are regarded as predecessors of the modern mystery, or detective, story. Many of Poe's short stories are distinguished by the author's unique grotesque inventiveness in addition to his superb plot construction. Such stories include "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" (1838), "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839), "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1842), "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843), and "The Cask of Amontillado" (1846). Poe often served as a book reviewer and produced a significant body of criticism that has earned him a high place among American literary critics. Poe's theories on the nature of fiction and, in particular, his writings on the short story have had a lasting influence on American and European writers and critics.
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Pope, Alexander (1688-1744), English poet, who, modeling himself after the great poets of classical antiquity, wrote highly polished verse, often in a didactic or satirical vein. In verse translations, moral and critical essays, and satires that made him the foremost poet of his age, he brought the heroic couplet, which had been refined by John Dryden, to perfection. Pope was born in London. In 1717 he moved to Twickenham and the most celebrated personages of the day came to visit him there. He was a bitterly quarrelsome man and attacked his literary contemporaries viciously and often without provocation. To some, however, he was warm and affectionate; he had a long and close friendship with the English writers Jonathan Swift and John Gay. He first attracted public attention in 1709 with his "Pastorals". In 1711 his "Essay on Criticism", a brilliant exposition of the canons of taste, was published. His most famous poem, "The Rape of the Lock" (first published 1712; revised edition published 1714), an ingenious mock-heroic work, established his reputation securely. In 1717 a collection of Pope's works containing the most noteworthy of his lyrics was published. Pope's translation of Homer's Iliad was published in six volumes from 1715 to 1720; a translation of the Odyssey followed (1725-1726). He also published an edition of William Shakespeare's plays (1725). In 1728 Pope lampooned those he considered poor writers in one of his best-known works, "The Dunciad", a satire celebrating dullness. In 1734 he completed his "Essay on Man".
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Porter, Peter (b. 1929). Peter Porter was born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.He worked as a cadet journalist on the Brisbane Courier Mail from 1947–1948, but left for England in 1951, and lived in London since that time. In 1974 he returned for a visit to Australia at the invitation of the Adelaide Festival. 1974 was a significant year in Porter’s life, with the death of his first wife Jannice, and other personal matters that would find their expression in what many consider to be his masterpiece, "The Cost of Seriousness", eventually published in 1978. It is a book which has significant meaning not only in terms of British poetry and Porter’s oeuvre in general, but in his increasing influence on Australian literature. It is a book of tensions and reconciliations, with the past and self, love and death. Apart from its elegiac content, there is also an attempt to re-approach Australia, to discover worth in its landscape and evolving arts. Two poems, “The Exequy” and “The Delegate” are among the finest achievements of English language poetry of the 1970s. In the last two decades Porter was a regular visitor to Australia. He is the author of over a dozen collections of poetry including "Millennial Fables" (1994) and "Collected Poems" which won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize in 1983. "The Automatic Oracle" (1987) received the Whitbread Prize. Among his many other awards is the Gold Medal of the Australian Literature Society in 1990. His most recent book is "Dragons in Their Pleasant Palaces" (1997). Peter Porter died in London of cancer, on the 23rd of April, 2010.
Pound, Ezra Loomis (1885-1972), American avant-garde poet, critic, and translator, who exerted an enormous influence on the development of English and American poetry and criticism in the early 20th century. He was born in Hailey, Idaho. While living in England, Pound championed works of several avant-garde authors writing there at the time. Pound also set forth the theories behind the literary movement that came to be known as imagism.
Pound's literary reputation was established with the publication of Personae, a verse collection, in 1909. In 1920 Pound moved to Paris, where he became a leader of the American expatriate literary circle; translated from Italian, Chinese, and Japanese literature; and completed several books of criticism and poetry. During World War II (1939-1945), Pound broadcast Fascist propaganda from Rome to the United States. He was arrested after the war and confined to a mental hospital in Washington, D.C., until 1958. Portions of Pound's major work, Cantos, were first published in 1925; the first complete English edition was issued in 1970. His Collected Poems were published in 1950. His Literary Essays appeared in 1954, and his Translations appeared in 1963.
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Prelutsky, Jack (b.1940), Jack Prelutsky (born September 8, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American poet. He attended New York public schools, and later the High School of Music and Art and Hunter College. Prelutsky, who has also worked as a busboy, furniture mover, folk singer, and cab driver, claims that he hated poetry in grade school because of the way it was taught. He is the author of more than 30 poetry collections including Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep and A Pizza the Size of the Sun. He has also compiled countless children's anthologies comprised of poems of others'. Jack Prelutsky was married to Von Tre Venefue, a woman he had met in France. They divorced in 1995, but Jack remarried. He currently lives in Washington state with his wife, Carolyn. He befriended a gay poet named Espiritu Salamanca in 1997 and both now work together in writing poems and stories for children and adults alike.
Pugh, Sheenagh (b. 1950). Contemporary Welsh poet. An autobiographical note from her web page at: http://sheenagh.webs.com/ : "I was born in 1950. I live in Cardiff, Wales with my husband, two children and cats, and teach creative writing at the University of Glamorgan. I have published nine collections of poetry and translations and two novels [both categories are increasing]. I translate poems mainly from German but sometimes also from French and Ancient Greek. I read German and Russian at the University of Bristol. My interests are language, history, northern landscapes from Shetland to the Arctic and all points in between, snooker, mortality, cyberspace and above all people. I like to use poems to commemorate people and places, sometimes to amuse, to have a go at things I don't like (censorship, intolerance, pomposity) and above all to entertain. I have been accused of being "populist" and "too accessible", both of which I hope are true. I have won many prizes and awards, including the Forward Prize for best single poem of 1998, the Bridport Prize, the PHRAS prize, the Cardiff International Poetry Prize (twice) and the British Comparative Literature Association's Translation Prize. My poems have been included in several anthologies, notably Poems on the Underground and The Hutchinson Book of Post-War British Poetry. They have also been set to music, have appeared on the trams of Helsinki and the St Petersburg Underground, and have been translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and Dutch."
And a telling quote cited by Ms.Pugh on her web site:
"Sheenagh Pugh is a very wicked poet" - Roger McGough
Ms.Pugh's publisher is: Seren, 38-40 Nolton Street, Bridgend, CF31 3BN, Wales.