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Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney was born on April 13, 1939, in Castledawson, County Derry, Northern Ireland. He earned a teacher's certificate in English at St. Joseph's College in Belfast and in 1963 took a position as a lecturer in English at that school. While at St. Joseph's he began to write, joining a poetry workshop with Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, and others under the guidance of Philip Hobsbaum. In 1965 he married Marie Devlin, and the following year he published Death of a Naturalist. Since then he has published hundreds more, in such collections as Human Chain (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), District and Circle (Faber and Faber, 2006), Opened Ground (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; The Spirit Level (1996); Selected Poems 1966-1987 (1990); and Sweeney Astray (1984). He has also written several volumes of criticism, including The Redress of Poetry (1995). Heaney's most recent translation is Beowulf (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), which won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. He is also co-translator, with Stanislaw Baranczak, of Laments: Poems of Jan Kochanowski (1995), and co-author, with Joseph Brodsky and Derek Walcott, of a collection of essays entitled Homage to Robert Frost (1996). In June of 2012, Heaney was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence He is also a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and held the chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1989 to 1994. In 1995 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Heaney has been a resident of Dublin since 1976, but since 1981 he has spent part of each year teaching at Harvard University, where in 1984 he was elected the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory. Seamus Heaney passed away in Dublin, Ireland, on August 30, 2013. He was 74. Poetry Death of a Naturalist (1966) Door into the Dark (1969) Field Work (1979) New Selected Poems, 1966-1987 (1990) North (1975) Poems 1965-1975 (1980) Seeing Things (1991) Station Island (1984) Sweeney Astray: A Version From the Irish (1983) The Haw Lantern (1987) The Midnight Verdict (1993) The Spirit Level (1996) Wintering Out (1972) District and Circle (2006) Human Chain (2010) Prose Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture (1996) Homage to Robert Frost, with Joseph Brodsky and Derek Walcott (1996) Preoccupations: Selected Prose, 1968-1978 (1980) The Fire i' the Flint: Reflections on the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1975) The Government of the Tongue: Selected Prose 1978-1987 (1988) The Place of Writing (1989) The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures (1995) Anthology Beowulf (2000) Laments (1995) Drama The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes (1991) References Poets.org - www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/211

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario. She earned a B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto, and an M.A. from Harvard. She is the author of over fifteen books of poetry, including Eating Fire: Selected Poems, 1965-1995 (Virago Press Limited, 1998); Morning in the Burned House (1995), which was a co-winner of the Trillium Award; Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New 1976-1986 (1987); Two-Headed Poems (1978); You Are Happy (1975); and The Animals in That Country (1968). Among her novels are Oryx and Crake: A Novel (McClelland & Stewart, 2003); The Blind Assassin (2000), which won the Booker Prize and the Dashell Hammett Prize; Alias Grace (1996); The Robber Bride (1993); The Handmaid's Tale (1986), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Bodily Harm (1982); Lady Oracle (1976); and The Edible Woman (1970). Her collections of short fiction include A Quiet Game: And Other Early Works (1997), Good Bones (1992), Wilderness Tips and Other Stories (1991), Murder in the Dark: Short Fictions and Prose Poems (1983), and Dancing Girls and Other Stories (1977). She is the author of four collections of nonfiction: Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995), Second Words: Selected Critical Prose (1982), Days of the Rebels 1815-1840 (1977), and Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972). Her books for children include Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995), For the Birds (1990), and Up in the Tree (1978). Atwood's work has been translated into many languages and published in more than twenty-five countries. Among her numerous honors and awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Molson Award, the Ida Nudel Humanitarian Award, and a Canada Short Fiction Award. In 1986 Ms Magazine named her Woman of the Year. She has served as a Writer-In-Residence and a lecturer at many colleges and universities. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto. References Poets.org – www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/746

Charles Bukowski

Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife". Regarding Bukowski's enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, "the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.” Early years Charles Bukowski was born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, Germany, to Heinrich Bukowski and Katharina (née Fett). Bukowski's mother was a native German and his father was an American serviceman of German descent. His paternal grandfather Leonard had emigrated to America from Germany in the 1880s. In Cleveland, Leonard met Emilie Krausse who had emigrated from Danzig, then part of Germany. They married and settled in Pasadena. He worked as a carpenter, setting up his own very successful construction company. The couple had four children, including Henry, Charles Bukowski's father. Charles Bukowski's parents met in Andernach, in Western Germany following World War I, the poet's father posted as a sergeant in the American army of occupation following Germany's defeat in 1918. He had an affair with Katherina, the German sister of a friend, and she quickly became pregnant. Charles Bukowski repeatedly claimed to be born out of wedlock, but Andernach marital records indicate that his parents married one month prior to his birth. His father set himself up as a building contractor, set to make great financial gains in the aftermath of the war. After two years that family moved to Pfaffendorf. Given the crippling reparations being required of Germany and high levels of inflation Henry was unable to make a living, and so he decided to move the family back to America. On April 23, 1923 they sailed from Bremerhaven to Baltimore, Maryland, where they settled. Wanting a more Anglophone name, Bukowski's parents began calling their son 'Henry', which the poet would later change to Charles. They altered the pronunciation of the family name from /buːˈkɒfski/ boo-kof-skee to /buːˈkaʊski/ boo-kow-ski, Bukowski's parents were Roman Catholic. The family settled in South Central Los Angeles in 1930, the city where Charles Bukowski's father and grandfather had previously worked and lived. In the '30s the poet's father was often unemployed. In the autobiographical Ham on Rye Charles Bukowski says that, with his mother's acquiescence, his father was frequently abusive, both physically and mentally, beating his son for the smallest imagined offence. During his youth Bukowski was shy and socially withdrawn, a condition exacerbated during his teens by an extreme case of acne. Neighborhood children ridiculed his German accent and the clothing his parents made him wear. Although he seemed to suffer from Dyslexia, he was highly praised at school for his art work. In his early teens, Henry had an epiphany when he was introduced to alcohol by his loyal friend William "Baldy" Mullinax, depicted as "Eli Lacross" in Ham on Rye, son of an alcoholic surgeon. "This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time", he later wrote, describing the genesis of his chronic alcoholism; or, as he saw it, the genesis of a method he could utilize to come to more amicable terms with his own life. After graduating from Los Angeles High School, Bukowski attended Los Angeles City College for two years, taking courses in art, journalism, and literature, before quitting at the start of World War II. He then moved to New York to begin a career as a writer. On July 22, 1944, with World War II ongoing, Bukowski was arrested by FBI agents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was living at the time, on suspicion of draft evasion. He was held for 17 days in Philadelphia's Moyamensing Prison. Sixteen days later he failed a psychological exam that was part of his mandatory military entrance "physical" and was given a Selective Service Classification of 4-F (unfit for military service). Early writing When Bukowski was 24, his short story, "Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip", was published in Story magazine. Two years later, another short story, "20 Tanks from Kasseldown", was published by the Black Sun Press in Issue III of Portfolio: An Intercontinental Quarterly, a limited-run, loose-leaf broadside collection printed in 1946 and edited by Caresse Crosby. Failing to break into the literary world, Bukowski grew disillusioned with the publication process and quit writing for almost a decade, a time that he referred to as a "ten-year drunk." These "lost years" formed the basis for his later semi-autobiographical chronicles, although they are fictionalized versions of Bukowski's life through his highly stylized alter-ego, Henry Chinaski. During part of this period he continued living in Los Angeles, working at a pickle factory for a short time but also spending some time roaming about the United States, working sporadically and staying in cheap rooming houses. In the early 1950s, Bukowski took a job as a fill-in letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles but resigned just before he reached three years' service. In 1955 he was treated for a near-fatal bleeding ulcer. After leaving the hospital he began to write poetry. In 1957 he agreed to marry small-town Texas poet Barbara Frye, sight unseen, but they divorced in 1959. According to Howard Sounes's Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, she later died under mysterious circumstances in India. Following his divorce, Bukowski resumed drinking and continued writing poetry. 1960s By 1960, Bukowski had returned to the post office in Los Angeles where he began work as a letter filing clerk, a position he held for more than a decade. In 1962, he was traumatized by the death of Jane Cooney Baker, the object of his first serious romantic attachment. Bukowski turned his inner devastation into a series of poems and stories lamenting her death. In 1964 a daughter, Marina Louise Bukowski, was born to Bukowski and his live-in girlfriend Frances Smith, whom he referred to as a "white-haired hippie," "shack-job," and "old snaggle-tooth.". Jon and Louise Webb, now recognized as giants of the post-war 'small-press movement', published The Outsider literary magazine and featured some of Bukowski's poetry. Under the Loujon Press imprint, they published Bukowski's It Catches My Heart in Its Hands in 1963 and Crucifix in a Deathhand in 1965. Beginning in 1967, Bukowski wrote the column "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" for Los Angeles' Open City, an underground newspaper. When Open City was shut down in 1969, the column was picked up by the Los Angeles Free Press as well as the hippie underground paper NOLA Express in New Orleans. In 1969 Bukowski and Neeli Cherkovski launched their own short-lived mimeographed literary magazine, Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns. They produced three issues over the next two years. Black Sparrow years In 1969 Bukowski accepted an offer from Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin and quit his post office job to dedicate himself to full-time writing. He was then 49 years old. As he explained in a letter at the time, "I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve." Less than one month after leaving the postal service he finished his first novel, Post Office. As a measure of respect for Martin's financial support and faith in a relatively unknown writer, Bukowski published almost all of his subsequent major works with Black Sparrow Press. An avid supporter of small independent presses, he continued to submit poems and short stories to innumerable small publications throughout his career. Bukowski embarked on a series of love affairs and one-night trysts. One of these relationships was with Linda King, a poet and sculptress. Critic Robert Peters viewed the debut of Linda King’s play The Tenant in which she and Bukowski starred back in the 1970s in Los Angeles. This play was a one-off performance. His other affairs were with a recording executive and a 23-year-old redhead; he wrote a book of poetry as a tribute of his love for the latter, titled, "Scarlet" (Black Sparrow Press, 1976). His various affairs and relationships provided material for his stories and poems. Another important relationship was with "Tanya", pseudonym of "Amber O'Neil" (also a pseudonym), described in Bukowski's "Women" as a pen-pal that evolved into a weekend tryst at Bukowski's residence in Los Angeles in the 1970s. "Amber O'Neil" later self-published a chapbook about the affair entitled "Blowing My Hero.” n 1976, Bukowski met Linda Lee Beighle, a health food restaurant owner, aspiring actress and devotee of Meher Baba, leader of an Indian religious society. Two years later Bukowski moved from the East Hollywood area, where he had lived for most of his life, to the harborside community of San Pedro, the southernmost district of the City of Los Angeles. Beighle followed him and they lived together intermittently over the next two years. They were eventually married by Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author and mystic, in 1985. Beighle is referred to as "Sara" in Bukowski's novels Women and Hollywood. Death Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, California, aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin's book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. His gravestone reads: "Don't Try", a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: "Somebody at one of these places [...] asked me: 'What do you do? How do you write, create?' You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: 'not' to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it." In 2007 and 2008 there was a movement to save Bukowski's bungalow at 5124 De Longpre Avenue from destruction. The campaign was spearheaded by preservationist Lauren Everett. The cause was covered extensively in the local and international press, including a feature in David S. Wills's Beatdom magazine, and was ultimately successful. The bungalow subsequently was listed as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument called Bukowski Court. The cause was criticized by some as cheapening Bukowski's "outsider" reputation. Work Bukowski published extensively in small literary magazines and with small presses beginning in the early 1940s and continuing on through the early 1990s. These poems and stories were later republished by Black Sparrow Press (now HarperCollins/ECCO) as collected volumes of his work. In the 1980s he collaborated with illustrator Robert Crumb on a series of comic books, with Bukowski supplying the writing and Crumb providing the artwork. Bukowski also performed live readings of his works, beginning in 1962 on radio station KPFK in Los Angeles and increasing in frequency through the 1970s. Drinking was often a featured part of the readings, along with a combative banter with the audience. By the late 1970s Bukowski's income was sufficient to give up live readings. His last international performance was in October 1979 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was released on DVD as There's Gonna Be a God Damn Riot in Here. In March 1980 he gave his very last reading at the Sweetwater club in Redondo Beach, which was released as Hostage on audio CD and The Last Straw on DVD. Bukowski often spoke of Los Angeles as his favorite subject. In a 1974 interview he said, "You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every bitch on the street corner and half of them you have already messed around with. You've got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are.... Since I was raised in L.A., I've always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I've had time to learn this city. I can't see any other place than L.A." One critic has described Bukowski's fiction as a "detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free", an image he tried to live up to with sometimes riotous public poetry readings and boorish party behaviour. Since his death in 1994 Bukowski has been the subject of a number of critical articles and books about both his life and writings. His work has received relatively little attention from academic critics. ECCO continues to release new collections of his poetry, culled from the thousands of works published in small literary magazines. According to ECCO, the 2007 release The People Look Like Flowers At Last will be his final posthumous release as now all his once-unpublished work has been published. In June 2006 Bukowski's literary archive was donated by his widow to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Copies of all editions of his work published by the Black Sparrow Press are held at Western Michigan University which purchased the archive of the publishing house after its closure in 2003. Novels * Post Office (1971) * Factotum (1975) * Women (1978) * Ham on Rye (1982) * Hollywood (1989) * Pulp (1994) Poetry collections Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail (1960) Poems and Drawings (1962) Longshot Poems for Broke Players (1962) Run with the Hunted (1962) It Catches My Heart in Its Hands (1963) Crucifix in a Deathhand (1965) Cold Dogs in the Courtyard (1965) The Genius of the Crowd (1966) 2 by Bukowski (1967) The Curtains Are Waving (1967) At Terror Street and Agony Way (1968) Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8 story Window (1968) A Bukowski Sampler (1969) The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (1969) Fire Station (1970) Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972) Me and Your Sometimes Love Poems (1972) While the Music Played (1973) Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (1974) Africa, Paris, Greece (1975) Scarlet (1976) Maybe Tomorrow (1977) Legs, Hips and Behind (1978) Love Is a Dog from Hell (1977) Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979) Dangling in the Tournefortia (1982) War All the Time (book)|War All the Time (1984) Horses Don't Bet on People & Neither Do I (1984) You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense (1986) The Roominghouse Madrigals (1988) Beauti-ful & Other Long Poems (1988) Septuagenarian Stew: Stories & Poems (1990) People Poems (1991) The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992) Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories (1996) Bone Palace Ballet (book)|Bone Palace Ballet (1998) What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through the Fire. (1999) Open All Night (book)|Open All Night (2000) The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps (2001) Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way (2003) As Buddha smiles (2003) The Flash of the Lightning Behind the Mountain (2004) Slouching Toward Nirvana (2005) Come on In! (2006) The People Look Like Flowers at Last (2007) The Pleasures of the Damned (2007) The Continual Condition (2009) References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bukowski

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819. He was the second son of Walter Whitman, a housebuilder, and Louisa Van Velsor. The family, which consisted of nine children, lived in Brooklyn and Long Island in the 1820s and 1830s. At the age of twelve, Whitman began to learn the printer's trade, and fell in love with the written word. Largely self-taught, he read voraciously, becoming acquainted with the works of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Whitman worked as a printer in New York City until a devastating fire in the printing district demolished the industry. In 1836, at the age of 17, he began his career as teacher in the one-room school houses of Long Island. He continued to teach until 1841, when he turned to journalism as a full-time career. He founded a weekly newspaper, Long-Islander, and later edited a number of Brooklyn and New York papers. In 1848, Whitman left the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to become editor of the New Orleans Crescent. It was in New Orleans that he experienced at first hand the viciousness of slavery in the slave markets of that city. On his return to Brooklyn in the fall of 1848, he founded a "free soil" newspaper, the Brooklyn Freeman, and continued to develop the unique style of poetry that later so astonished Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1855, Whitman took out a copyright on the first edition of Leaves of Grass, which consisted of twelve untitled poems and a preface. He published the volume himself, and sent a copy to Emerson in July of 1855. Whitman released a second edition of the book in 1856, containing thirty-three poems, a letter from Emerson praising the first edition, and a long open letter by Whitman in response. During his subsequent career, Whitman continued to refine the volume, publishing several more editions of the book. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Whitman vowed to live a "purged" and "cleansed" life. He wrote freelance journalism and visited the wounded at New York-area hospitals. He then traveled to Washington, D.C. in December 1862 to care for his brother who had been wounded in the war. Overcome by the suffering of the many wounded in Washington, Whitman decided to stay and work in the hospitals and stayed in the city for eleven years. He took a job as a clerk for the Department of the Interior, which ended when the Secretary of the Interior, James Harlan, discovered that Whitman was the author of Leaves of Grass, which Harlan found offensive. Harlan fired the poet. Whitman struggled to support himself through most of his life. In Washington, he lived on a clerk's salary and modest royalties, and spent any excess money, including gifts from friends, to buy supplies for the patients he nursed. He had also been sending money to his widowed mother and an invalid brother. From time to time writers both in the states and in England sent him "purses" of money so that he could get by. In the early 1870s, Whitman settled in Camden, NJ, where he had come to visit his dying mother at his brother's house. However, after suffering a stroke, Whitman found it impossible to return to Washington. He stayed with his brother until the 1882 publication of Leaves of Grass gave Whitman enough money to buy a home in Camden. In the simple two-story clapboard house, Whitman spent his declining years working on additions and revisions to a new edition of the book and preparing his final volume of poems and prose, Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891). After his death on March 26, 1892, Whitman was buried in a tomb he designed and had built on a lot in Harleigh Cemetery. A Selected Bibliography Poetry * Leaves of Grass (1855) * Leaves of Grass (1856) * Leaves of Grass (1860) * Drum Taps (1865) * Sequel to Drum Taps (1865) * Leaves of Grass (1867) * Leaves of Grass (1870) * Passage to India (1870) * Leaves of Grass (1876) * Leaves of Grass (1881) * Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891) * Leaves of Grass (1891) Prose * Franklin Evans; or, The Inebriate (1842) * Democratic Vistas (1871) * Memoranda During the War (1875) * Specimen Days and Collect (1881) * November Boughs (1888) * Complete Prose Works (1892) References Poets.org - http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/126

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim. Angelou's long list of occupations has included pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast-member of the musical Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1991, she has taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she has made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou was heralded as a new kind of memoirist, one of the first African American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life. She is highly respected as a spokesperson of Black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of Black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labelled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She has made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews. Early years Marguerite Johnson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928, the second child of Bailey Johnson, a navy dietitian, and Vivian (Baxter) Johnson, a nurse and card dealer. Angelou's older brother, Bailey Jr., nicknamed Marguerite "Maya", shortened from "my-a-sister". The first 17 years of Angelou's life are documented in her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. When Angelou was three, and her brother four, their parents' "calamitous marriage" ended. Their father sent them to Stamps, Arkansas alone by train to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson. In "an astonishing exception" to the harsh economics of African Americans of the time, Angelou's grandmother prospered financially during the Great Depression and World War II because the general store she owned sold needed basic commodities and because "she made wise and honest investments”. Four years later, the children's father "came to Stamps without warning" and returned them to their mother's care in St. Louis. At the age of eight, while living with her mother, Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. She confessed it to her brother, who told the rest of their family. Freeman was found guilty, but was jailed for only one day. Four days after his release, he was murdered, probably by Angelou's uncles. Angelou became mute for almost five years, believing, as she has stated, "I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone..." According to Angelou's biographers it was during this period of silence when Angelou developed her extraordinary memory, her love for books and literature, and her ability to listen and observe the world around her. Shortly after Freeman's murder, Angelou and her brother were sent back to their grandmother once again. Angelou credits a teacher and friend of her family, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, with helping her speak again. Flowers introduced her to authors such as Dickens, Shakespeare, Poe, Douglas Johnson (historian), and James Weldon Johnson, authors that would affect her life and career, as well as Black female artists like Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset. When Angelou was 14, she and her brother returned to live with her mother in Oakland, California. During World War II, she attended George Washington High School while studying dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde, who also became a poet. Angelou's second autobiography, Gather Together in My Name, recounts her life from age 17 to 19 and "depicts a single mother's slide down the social ladder into poverty and crime." Angelou worked as "the front woman/business manager for prostitutes," restaurant cook, and prostitute. She moved through a series of relationships, occupations, and cities as she attempted to raise her son without job training or advanced education. Adulthood and early career: 1951—1961 In her third autobiography, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Angelou describes her three-year marriage to Greek electrician, former sailor, and aspiring musician Enistasious (Tosh) Angelos in 1951, despite the condemnation of interracial relationships at the time and the disapproval of her mother. She took modern dances classes during this time, and met dancers and choreographers Alvin Ailey and Ruth Beckford. Angelou and Ailey formed a dance team, calling themselves "Al and Rita", and performed Modern Dance at fraternal Black organizations throughout San Francisco, but never became successful. Angelou, her new husband, and son moved to New York City so that she could study African dance with Trinidadian dancer Pearl Primus, but they returned to San Francisco a year later. After Angelou's marriage ended, she danced professionally in clubs around San Francisco, including the nightclub The Purple Onion, where she sang and danced calypso music. Up to that point she went by the name of "Marguerite Johnson", or "Rita", but at the strong suggestion of her managers and supporters at The Purple Onion she changed her professional name to "Maya Angelou", a "distinctive name" that set her apart and captured the feel of her Calypso dance performances. During 1954 and 1955 Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She began her practice of trying to learn the language of every country she visited, and in a few years she gained proficiency in several languages. In 1957, riding on the popularity of calypso, Angelou recorded her first album, Miss Calypso, which was reissued as a CD in 1996. She appeared in an off-Broadway review that inspired the film Calypso Heat Wave, in which Angelou sang and performed her own compositions. As Angelou described in her fourth autobiography, The Heart of a Woman, she met novelist James O. Killens in 1959, and at his urging, moved to New York to concentrate on her writing career. She joined the Harlem Writers Guild, where she met several major African-American authors, including John Henrik Clarke, Rosa Guy, Paule Marshall, and Julian Mayfield, and was published for the first time. After meeting and hearing civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak in 1960, she and Killens organized "the legendary" Cabaret for Freedom to benefit the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and she was named SCLC's Northern Coordinator. According to scholar Lyman B. Hagen, her contributions to civil rights as a fundraiser and SCLC organizer were successful and "eminently effective". Angelou also began her pro-Castro and anti-apartheid activism during this time. Africa to Caged Bird: 1961—1969 In 1961, Angelou performed in Jean Genet's The Blacks, along with Abbey Lincoln, Roscoe Lee Brown, James Earl Jones, Louis Gossett, Godfrey Cambridge, and Cicely Tyson. That year she met South African freedom fighter Vusumzi Make; they never officially married. She and her son Guy moved to Cairo with Make where Angelou worked as an associate editor at the weekly English-language newspaper The Arab Observer. In 1962 her relationship with Make ended, and she and Guy moved to Accra, Ghana, he to attend college, where he was seriously injured in an automobile accident. Angelou remained in Accra for his recovery and ended up staying there until 1965, later relating her experiences as an African American residing in Ghana in her fifth autobiography, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes. She became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and was active in the African-American expatriate community. She was a feature editor for The African Review, a freelance writer for the Ghanaian Times, wrote and broadcast for Radio Ghana, and worked and performed for Ghana's National Theatre. She performed in a revival of The Blacks in Geneva and Berlin. In Accra, she became close friends with Malcolm X during his visit in the early 1960s. Writing about their relationship in her sixth and final autobiography A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), Angelou said she returned to the U.S. in 1965 to help him build a new civil rights organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity; he was assassinated shortly afterward. Devastated and adrift, she joined her brother in Hawaii, where she resumed her singing career, and then moved back to Los Angeles to focus on her writing career. She worked as a market researcher in Watts and witnessed the riots in the summer of 1965. She acted in and wrote plays, and returned to New York in 1967. She met her life-long friend Rosa Guy and renewed her friendship with James Baldwin, whom she met in Paris in the 1950s and called "my brother", during this time. Her friend Jerry Purcell provided Angelou with a stipend to support her writing. In 1968, Martin Luther King asked Angelou to organize a march. She agreed, but "postpones again", and in what Angelou's biographers call "a macabre twist of fate", he was assassinated on her 40th birthday (April 4). Devastated again, she was encouraged out of her depression by her friend James Baldwin. As her biographers state, "If 1968 was a year of great pain, loss, and sadness, it was also the year when America first witnessed the breadth and depth of Maya Angelou's spirit and creative genius". Despite almost no experience, she wrote, produced, and narrated "Blacks, Blues, Black!", a ten-part series of documentaries which dealt with the connection between blues music and Black Americans' African heritage, as well as what Angelou called the "Africanisms still current in the U.S." for National Educational Television, the precursor of PBS. Also in 1968, inspired at a dinner party she attended with Baldwin, cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and his wife Judy, and challenged by Random House editor Robert Loomis, she wrote her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969, which brought her international recognition and acclaim. Later career Angelou's Georgia, Georgia, produced by a Swedish film company and filmed in Sweden, the first screenplay written by a Black woman, was released in 1972. She also wrote the film's soundtrack, despite having very little additional input in the filming of the movie. Angelou married Welsh carpenter and ex-husband of Germaine Greer, Paul du Feu, in San Francisco in 1973. In the next ten years, as her biographers stated, "She had accomplished more than many artists hope to achieve in a lifetime". She worked as a composer, writing for singer Roberta Flack and composing movie scores. She wrote articles, short stories, TV scripts and documentaries, autobiographies and poetry, produced plays, and was named visiting professors of several colleges and universities. She was "a reluctant actor", and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1973 for her role in Look Away. In 1977 Angelou appeared in a supporting role in the television mini-series Roots. She began being awarded with hundreds of awards and honorary degrees from colleges and universities from all over the world. In the late '70s, Angelou met Oprah Winfrey when Winfrey was a TV anchor in Baltimore, Maryland; Angelou would later become Winfrey's close friend and mentor. In 1981, Angelou and du Feu divorced. Her attempts at producing and directing films were frustrated throughout the 80s. She returned to the southern United States in 1981, where she accepted the lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she taught a variety of subjects that reflected her interests, including philosophy, ethics, theology, science, theater, and writing. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem On the Pulse of Morning at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, becoming the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. Her recitation resulted in more fame and recognition for her previous works, and broadened her appeal "across racial, economic, and educational boundaries". The recording of the poem was awarded a Grammy Award. In June 1995, she delivered what Richard Long called her "second 'public' poem", entitled "A Brave and Startling Truth", which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Angelou finally achieved her goal of directing a feature film in 1996, Down in the Delta, which featured actors such as Alfre Woodard and Wesley Snipes. Since the 1990s, Angelou has actively participated in the lecture circuit in a customized tour bus, something she continued into her eighties. In 2000, she created a successful collection of products for Hallmark, including greeting cards and decorative household items. Over thirty years after Angelou began writing her life story, she completed the sixth and final autobiography in her series of six, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, in 2002. Angelou campaigned for Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential primaries. When Clinton's campaign ended, Angelou put her support behind Senator Barack Obama, who won the election and became the first African American president of the United States. She stated, "We are growing up beyond the idiocies of racism and sexism". In late 2010, Angelou donated her personal papers and career memorabilia to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. They consisted of over 340 boxes of documents that featured her handwritten notes on yellow legal pads for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a 1982 telegram from Coretta Scott King, fan mail, and personal and professional correspondence from colleagues such as her editor Robert Loomis. Personal life Evidence suggests that Maya Angelou, who preferred to be called "Dr. Angelou" by people outside of her family and close friends, was partially descended from the Mende people of West Africa. A 2008 PBS documentary found that Angelou's maternal great-grandmother Mary Lee, who had been emancipated after the Civil War, became pregnant by her former white owner, John Savin. Savin forced Lee to sign a false statement accusing another man of being the father of her child. After indicting Savin for forcing Lee to commit perjury, and despite discovering that Savin was the father, a grand jury found him not guilty. Lee was sent to the Clinton County poorhouse in Missouri with her daughter, Marguerite Baxter, who became Angelou's grandmother. Angelou described Lee as "that poor little Black girl, physically and mentally bruised." The details of Angelou's life described in her six autobiographies and in numerous interviews, speeches, and articles tend to be inconsistent. Her biographer, Mary Jane Lupton, has explained that when Angelou has spoken about her life, she has done so eloquently but informally and "with no time chart in front of her". For example, she has been married at least twice, but has never clarified the number of times she has been married, "for fear of sounding frivolous"). According to her autobiographies and her biographers, she married Tosh Angelos in 1951 and Paul du Feu in 1973, and began her relationship with Vusumzi Make in 1961, but never formally married him. Angelou has one son Guy, whose birth was described in her first autobiography, one grandson, and two young great-grandchildren, and according to her biographers, a large group of friends and extended family. Angelou's mother Vivian Baxter and brother Bailey Johnson, Jr., both of whom were important figures in her life and her books, die; her mother in 1991 and her brother in 2000 after a series of strokes. In 1981, the mother of her son Guy's child disappeared with him; it took eight years to find Angelou's grandson. As of 2008, Angelou owned two homes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and one in Harlem, full of her "growing library" of books she has collected throughout her life, artwork collected over the span of many decades, and well-stocked kitchens. According to her biographers, she hosted several celebrations per year at her main residence in Winston-Salem, including Thanksgiving; "her skill in the kitchen is the stuff of legend—from haute cuisine to down-home comfort food". She combined her cooking and writing skills in her 2004 book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, which featured recipes she learned from her grandmother and mother, along with stories that preceded each recipe. Beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou has used the same "writing ritual" for many years. She would wake early in the morning and check into a hotel room, where the staff was instructed to remove any pictures from the walls. She would write on legal pads while lying on the bed, with only a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards to playsolitaire, Roget's Thesaurus, and the Bible, and would leave by the early afternoon. She would average 10–12 pages of written material a day, which she edited down to three or four pages in the evening. Angelou went through this process to "enchant" herself, and as she has said in a 1989 interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, "relive the agony, the anguish, the Sturm und Drang." She placed herself back in the time she wrote about, even traumatic experiences like her rape in Caged Bird, in order to "tell the human truth" about her life. Angelou has stated that she played cards in order to get to that place of enchantment, in order to access her memories more effectively. She has stated, "It may take an hour to get into it, but once I’m in it—ha! It’s so delicious!" She did not find the process cathartic; rather, she has found relief in "telling the truth”. Angelou's work Although Angelou wrote her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, without the intention of writing a series, she went on to write five additional volumes. The volumes "stretch over time and place", from Arkansas to Africa and back to the U.S., and take place from the beginnings of World War II to assassination. of Martin Luther King, Jr. Critics have tended to judge Angelou's subsequent autobiographies "in light of the first", with Caged Bird receiving the highest praise. Angelou has written five collections of essays, which writer Hilton Als called her "wisdom books" and "homilies strung together with autobiographical texts". Angelou has used the same editor throughout her writing career, Robert Loomis, an executive editor at Random House, who retired in 2011 and has been called "one of publishing's hall of fame editors." Angelou has said regarding Loomis: "We have a relationship that's kind of famous among publishers”. Angelou's long and extensive career also includes poetry, plays, screenplays for television and film, directing, acting, and public speaking. She is a prolific writer of poetry; her volume Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and she was chosen by President Bill Clinton to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" during his inauguration in 1993. Angelou's successful acting career has included roles in numerous plays, films, and television programs, including her appearance in the television mini-series Roots in 1977. Her screenplay,Georgia, Georgia (1972), was the first original script by a Black woman to be produced and she was the first African American woman to direct a major motion picture, Down in the Delta, in 1998. Since the 1990s, Angelou has actively participated in the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. Reception and legacy Influence When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1969, Angelou was hailed as a new kind of memoirist, one of the first African American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life. Up to that point, black female writers were marginalized to the point that they were unable to present themselves as central characters. Scholar John McWhorter agreed, seeing Angelou's works, which he called "tracts", as "apologetic writing". He placed Angelou in the tradition of African-American literature as a defense of Black culture, which he called "a literary manifestation of the imperative that reigned in the black scholarship of the period". Writer Julian Mayfield, who called Caged Bird "a work of art that eludes description", has insisted that Angelou's autobiographies set a precedent not only for other black women writers, but for the genre of autobiography as a whole. Through the writing of her autobiography, Angelou became recognized and highly respected as a spokesperson for blacks and women. It made her "without a doubt, ... America's most visible black woman autobiographer", and "a major autobiographical voice of the time". As writer Gary Younge has said, "Probably more than almost any other writer alive, Angelou's life literally is her work". Author Hilton Als has insisted that although Caged Bird was an important contribution to the increase of black feminist writings in the 1970s, he attributed its success less to its originality than with "its resonance in the prevailing Zeitgeist", or the time in which it was written, at the end of the American Civil Rights movement. Als also insisted that Angelou's writings, more interested in self-revelation than in politics or feminism, has freed many other female writers to "open themselves up without shame to the eyes of the world". Angelou biographer Joanne M. Braxton has insisted that Caged Bird was "perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing" autobiography written by an African-American woman in its era. Critical reception Reviewer Elsie B. Washington, most likely due to President Clinton's choice of Angelou to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at his 1993 inauguration, has called Angelou "the black woman's poet laureate" Sales of the paperback version of her books and poetry rose by 300–600% the week after Angelou's recitation. Bantam Books had to reprint 400, copies of all her books to keep up with the demand. Random House, which published Angelou's hardcover books and published the poem later that year, reported that they sold more of her books in January 1993 than they did in all of 1992, accounting for a 1200% increase. Angelou has famously said, in response to criticism regarding using the details of her life in her work, "I agree with Balzac and 19th-century writers, black and white, who say, 'I write for money'". Angelou's books, especially I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, have been criticized by many parents, causing their removal from school curricula and library shelves. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, parents and schools have objected to Caged Bird's depictions of lesbianism, premarital cohabitation, pornography, and violence. Some have been critical of the book's sexually explicit scenes, use of language, and irreverent religious depictions. Caged Bird appeared third on the American Library Association (ALA) list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000, sixth on the ALA's 2000–2009 list, and one of the ten books most frequently banned from high school and junior high school libraries and classrooms. Awards and honors Angelou is one of the most honored writers of her generation. She has been honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors have included a National Book Award nomination for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, aPulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums. In 1995, Angelou's publishing company, Random House, recognized her for having the longest-running record (two years) on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List. She has served on two presidential committees, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Angelou has been awarded over thirty honorary degrees. Uses in education Angelou's autobiographies have been used in narrative and multicultural approaches in teacher education. Jocelyn A. Glazier, a professor at George Washington University, has trained teachers how to "talk about race" in their classrooms with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name. According to Glazier, Angelou's use of understatement, self-mockery, humor, and irony, have led readers of Angelou's autobiographies unsure of what she "left out" and how they should respond to the events Angelou describes. Angelou's depictions of her experiences of racism has forced white readers to explore their feelings about race and their own "privileged status". Glazier found that although critics have focused on where Angelou fits within the genre of African-American autobiography and on her literary techniques, readers have tended to react to her storytelling with "surprise, particularly when [they] enter the text with certain expectations about the genre of autobiography". Educator Daniel Challener, in his 1997 book, Stories of Resilience in Childhood, analyzed the events in Caged Bird to illustrate resiliency in children. Challener insisted that Angelou's book has provided a "useful framework" for exploring the obstacles many children like have Maya faced and how communities have helped children succeed as Angelou did. Psychologist Chris Boyatzis has reported using Caged Bird to supplement scientific theory and research in the instruction of child development topics such as the development of self-concept and self-esteem, ego resilience, industry versus inferiority, effects of abuse, parenting styles, sibling and friendship relations, gender issues, cognitive development, puberty, and identity formation in adolescence. He found the book a "highly effective" tool for providing real-life examples of these psychological concepts. Style and genre in Angelou's autobiographies Angelou's use of fiction-writing techniques such as dialogue, characterization, and development of theme, setting, plot, and language has often resulted in the placement of her books into the genre of autobiographical fiction, but Angelou has characterized them as autobiographies. As feminist scholar Maria Lauret has stated, Angelou has made a deliberate attempt in her books to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Scholar Mary Jane Lupton has insisted that all of Angelou's autobiographies conform to the genre's standard structure: they are written by a single author, they are chronological, and they contain elements of character, technique, and theme. Angelou has recognized that there are fictional aspects to her books; Lupton agreed, stating that Angelou has tended to "diverge from the conventional notion of autobiography as truth", which has paralleled the conventions of much of African-American autobiography written during the abolitionist period of U.S. history, when as both Lupton and African-American scholar Crispin Sartwell put it, the truth was censored out of the need for self-protection. Scholar Lyman B. Hagen has placed Angelou in the long tradition of African-American autobiography, but insisted that Angelou has created a unique interpretation of the autobiographical form. The challenge for much of the history of African-American literature was that its authors have had to confirm its status as literature before they could accomplish their political goals, which was why Angelou's editor Robert Loomis was able to dare her into writing Caged Bird by challenging her to write an autobiography that could be considered "high art". Angelou has acknowledged that she has followed the slave narrative tradition of "speaking in the first-person singular talking about the first-person plural, always saying I meaning 'we'". Scholar John McWhorter called Angelou's books "tracts" that defended African-American culture and fought against negative stereotypes. According to McWhorter, Angelou structured her books, which to him seemed to be written more for children than for adults, to support her defense of Black culture. McWhorter saw Angelou as she depicted herself in her autobiographies "as a kind of stand-in figure for the Black American in Troubled Times". Although McWhorter saw Angelou's works as dated, he recognized that "she has helped to pave the way for contemporary black writers who are able to enjoy the luxury of being merely individuals, no longer representatives of the race, only themselves. Scholar Lynn Z. Bloom has compared Angelou's works to the writings of Frederick Douglass, stating that both fulfilled the same purpose: to describe Black culture and to interpret it for her wider, white audience. According to scholar Sondra O'Neale, whereas Angelou's poetry could be placed within the African-American oral tradition, her prose "follows classic technique in nonpoetic Western forms". O'Neale stated that although Angelou avoided a "monolithic Black language", she accomplished, through direct dialogue, what O'Neale called a "more expected ghetto expressiveness". McWhorter, however, found both the language Angelou used in her autobiographies and the people she depicted unrealistic, resulting in a separation between her and her audience. As McWhorter stated, "I have never read autobiographical writing where I had such a hard time summoning a sense of how the subject talks, or a sense of who the subject really is". McWhorter asserted, for example, that Angelou's depiction of key figures like herself, her son Guy, and mother Vivian did not speak as one would expect, and that their speech was "cleaned up". Guy, for example, represented the young Black male, while Vivian represented the idealized mother figure. The stiff language Angelou used, both in her text and in the language of her subjects, was intended to prove that Blacks were able to competently use standard English. McWhorter recognized, however, that much of the reason for Angelou's style was the "apologetic" nature of her writing. When Angelou wrote Caged Bird at the end of the 1960s, one of the necessary and accepted features of literature at the time was "organic unity", and one of her goals was to create a book that satisfied that criteria. The events in her books were episodic and crafted like a series of short stories, but their arrangements did not follow a strict chronology. Instead, they were placed to emphasize the themes of her books, which include racism, identity, family, and travel. English literature scholar Valerie Sayers has asserted that "Angelou's poetry and prose are similar". They both relied on her "direct voice", which alternated steady rhythms with syncopated patterns and used similes and metaphors (e,g., the caged bird). According to Hagen, Angelou's works have been influenced by both conventional literary and the oral traditions of the African-American community. For example, she referenced over 100 literary characters throughout her books and poetry. In addition, she used the elements of blues music, including the act of testimony when speaking of one's life and struggles, ironic understatement, and the use of natural metaphors, rhythms, and intonations. Angelou, instead of depending upon plot, used personal and historical events to shape her books. Poetry Although Angelou considered herself a playwright and poet when her editor Robert Loomis challenged her to write I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she is best known for her autobiographies. According to Lupton, many of Angelou's readers identify her as a poet first and an autobiographer second. Reviewer Elsie B. Washington has called her "the black woman's poet laureate", and has called Angelou's poetry the anthems of African Americans. Angelou has experienced similar success as a poet as she did as an autobiographer. She began, early in her writing career, of alternating the publication of an autobiography and a volume of poetry. Her first volume of poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie, published in 1971 shortly after I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings became a best-seller, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Angelou's most famous poem was "On the Pulse of Morning", which she recited at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Lupton has insisted that "Angelou's ultimate greatness will be attributed" to the poem, and that Angelou's "theatrical" performance of it, using skills she learned as an actor and speaker, marked a return to the African-American oral tradition of speakers such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Angelou delivered what Richard Long called her "second 'public' poem", entitled "A Brave and Startling Truth", which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. Also in 1995, she was chosen to recite one of her poems at the Million Man March. In 2009, Angelou wrote "We Had Him", a poem about Michael Jackson, which was read by Queen Latifah at his funeral. As Angelou's biographers have stated, Angelou had "fallen in love with poetry in Stamps, Arkansas". After her rape at the age of eight, she memorized and studied great works of literature, including poetry, and according to Caged Bird, her friend Mrs. Flowers encouraged her to recite them, which helped bring her out of her muteness. Angelou's biographers have also stated that Angelou's poems "reflect the richness and subtlety of Black speech and sensibilities" and were meant to be read aloud. Angelou has supported her biographers, telling an interviewer in 1983 that she wrote poetry so that it would be read aloud. Scholar Zofia Burr has connected Angelou's "failure to impress professional poetry critics" to both the public nature of many of her poems and to Angelou's popular success, and to critics' preferences for poetry as a written form rather than a verbal performed one. Critic James Finn Cotter, in his review of Angelou's 1976 volume of poetry Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, called it an "unfortunate example of the dangers of success". Critic John Alfred Avant, despite the fact that the volume was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, stated that Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie “isn't accomplished, not by any means”. Scholar Joanne Braxton has asserted that “Angelou's audience, composed largely of women and blacks, isn't really affected by what white and/or male critics of the dominant literary tradition have to say about her work. This audience does not read literary critics; it does read Maya Angelou”. Burr has countered Angelou's critics by condemning them for not taking into account Angelou's larger purposes in her writing: “to be representative rather than individual, authoritative rather than confessional”. Referenes Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Angelou

Robert Frost

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874. He moved to New England at the age of eleven and became interested in reading and writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later at Harvard, though he never earned a formal degree. Frost drifted through a string of occupations after leaving school, working as a teacher, cobbler, and editor of the Lawrence Sentinel. His first professional poem, "My Butterfly," was published on November 8, 1894, in the New York newspaper The Independent. In 1895, Frost married Elinor Miriam White, who became a major inspiration in his poetry until her death in 1938. The couple moved to England in 1912, after their New Hampshire farm failed, and it was abroad that Frost met and was influenced by such contemporary British poets as Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. While in England, Frost also established a friendship with the poet Ezra Pound, who helped to promote and publish his work. By the time Frost returned to the United States in 1915, he had published two full-length collections, A Boy's Will and North of Boston, and his reputation was established. By the nineteen-twenties, he was the most celebrated poet in America, and with each new book—including New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), Steeple Bush (1947), and In the Clearing (1962)—his fame and honors (including four Pulitzer Prizes) increased. Though his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England, and though he was a poet of traditional verse forms and metrics who remained steadfastly aloof from the poetic movements and fashions of his time, Frost is anything but a merely regional or minor poet. The author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, he is a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony. In a 1970 review of The Poetry of Robert Frost, the poet Daniel Hoffman describes Frost's early work as "the Puritan ethic turned astonishingly lyrical and enabled to say out loud the sources of its own delight in the world," and comments on Frost's career as The American Bard: "He became a national celebrity, our nearly official Poet Laureate, and a great performer in the tradition of that earlier master of the literary vernacular, Mark Twain." About Frost, President John F. Kennedy said, "He has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding." Robert Frost lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont, and died in Boston on January 29, 1963. A Selected Bibliography Poetry A Boy's Will (1913) North of Boston (1914) Mountain Interval (1916) New Hampshire (1923) West-Running Brook (1928) The Lovely Shall Be Choosers (1929) The Lone Striker (1933) From Snow to Snow (1936) A Further Range (1936) A Witness Tree (1942) Come In, and Other Poems (1943) Masque of Reason (1945) Steeple Bush (1947) Hard Not to be King (1951) References Poets.org - http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/192

W. B. Yeats

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served two terms as a Senator of the Irish Free State. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others. Yeats was born in Sandymount, Ireland and educated there and in London. He spent childhood holidays in County Sligo and studied poetry from an early age when he became fascinated by Irish legends and the occult. These topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1900, his poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Biography Early years William Butler Yeats was born at Sandymount in County Dublin, Ireland. His father, John Butler Yeats (1839–1922), was a descendant of Jervis Yeats, a Williamite soldier, linen merchant, and well-known painter who died in 1712. Benjamin Yeats, Jervis’s grandson and William’s great-great-grandfather, had in 1773 married Mary Butler of a landed family in County Kildare. Following their marriage, they kept the name Butler. Mary was of the Butler of Neigham (pronounced Nyam) Gowran family, descended from an illegitimate brother of the 8th Earl of Ormond.By his marriage, William’s father John Yeats was studying law but abandoned his studies to study art at Heatherley School of Fine Art in London. His mother, Susan Mary Pollexfen, came from a wealthy merchant family in Sligo, who owned a milling and shipping business. Soon after William’s birth, the family relocated to the Pollexfen home at Merville, Sligo to stay with her extended family, and the young poet came to think of the area as his childhood and spiritual home. Its landscape became, over time, both literally and symbolically, his “country of the heart”. So also did its location on the sea; John Yeats stated that “by marriage with a Pollexfen, we have given a tongue to the sea cliffs”. The Butler Yeats family were highly artistic; his brother Jack became an esteemed painter, while his sisters Elizabeth and Susan Mary—known to family and friends as Lollie and Lily—became involved in the Arts and Crafts movement.Yeats was raised a member of the Protestant Ascendancy, which was at the time undergoing a crisis of identity. While his family was broadly supportive of the changes Ireland was experiencing, the nationalist revival of the late 19th century directly disadvantaged his heritage and informed his outlook for the remainder of his life. In 1997, his biographer R. F. Foster observed that Napoleon’s dictum that to understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty “is manifestly true of W.B.Y.” Yeats’s childhood and young adulthood were shadowed by the power-shift away from the minority Protestant Ascendancy. The 1880s saw the rise of Charles Stewart Parnell and the home rule movement; the 1890s saw the momentum of nationalism, while the Catholics became prominent around the turn of the century. These developments had a profound effect on his poetry, and his subsequent explorations of Irish identity had a significant influence on the creation of his country’s biography.In 1867, the family moved to England to aid their father, John, to further his career as an artist. At first, the Yeats children were educated at home. Their mother entertained them with stories and Irish folktales. John provided an erratic education in geography and chemistry and took William on natural history explorations of the nearby Slough countryside. On 26 January 1877, the young poet entered the Godolphin school, which he attended for four years. He did not distinguish himself academically, and an early school report describes his performance as “only fair. Perhaps better in Latin than in any other subject. Very poor in spelling”. Though he had difficulty with mathematics and languages (possibly because he was tone deaf), he was fascinated by biology and zoology. In 1879 the family moved to Bedford Park taking a two-year lease on 8 Woodstock Road. For financial reasons, the family returned to Dublin toward the end of 1880, living at first in the suburbs of Harold’s Cross and later Howth. In October 1881, Yeats resumed his education at Dublin’s Erasmus Smith High School. His father’s studio was nearby and William spent a great deal of time there, where he met many of the city’s artists and writers. During this period he started writing poetry, and, in 1885, the Dublin University Review published Yeats’s first poems, as well as an essay entitled “The Poetry of Sir Samuel Ferguson”. Between 1884 and 1886, William attended the Metropolitan School of Art—now the National College of Art and Design—in Thomas Street. In March 1888 the family moved to 3 Blenheim Road in Bedford Park. The rent on the house was £50 a year.He began writing his first works when he was seventeen; these included a poem—heavily influenced by Percy Bysshe Shelley—that describes a magician who set up a throne in central Asia. Other pieces from this period include a draft of a play about a bishop, a monk, and a woman accused of paganism by local shepherds, as well as love-poems and narrative lyrics on German knights. The early works were both conventional and, according to the critic Charles Johnston, “utterly unIrish”, seeming to come out of a “vast murmurous gloom of dreams”. Although Yeats’s early works drew heavily on Shelley, Edmund Spenser, and on the diction and colouring of pre-Raphaelite verse, he soon turned to Irish mythology and folklore and the writings of William Blake. In later life, Yeats paid tribute to Blake by describing him as one of the “great artificers of God who uttered great truths to a little clan”. In 1891, Yeats published John Sherman and “Dhoya”, one a novella, the other a story. The influence of Oscar Wilde is evident in Yeats’s theory of aesthetics, especially in his stage plays, and runs like a motif through his early works. The theory of masks, developed by Wilde in his polemic The Decay of Lying can clearly be seen in Yeats’s play The Player Queen, while the more sensual characterisation of Salomé, in Wilde’s play of the same name, provides the template for the changes Yeats made in his later plays, especially in On Baile’s Strand (1904), Deirdre (1907), and his dance play The King of the Great Clock Tower (1934). Young poet The family returned to London in 1887. In March 1890 Yeats joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and with Ernest Rhys co-founded the Rhymers’ Club, a group of London-based poets who met regularly in a Fleet Street tavern to recite their verse. Yeats later sought to mythologize the collective, calling it the “Tragic Generation” in his autobiography, and published two anthologies of the Rhymers’ work, the first one in 1892 and the second one in 1894. He collaborated with Edwin Ellis on the first complete edition of William Blake’s works, in the process rediscovering a forgotten poem, “Vala, or, the Four Zoas”.Yeats had a lifelong interest in mysticism, spiritualism, occultism and astrology. He read extensively on the subjects throughout his life, became a member of the paranormal research organisation “The Ghost Club” (in 1911) and was especially influenced by the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. As early as 1892, he wrote: “If I had not made magic my constant study I could not have written a single word of my Blake book, nor would The Countess Kathleen ever have come to exist. The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.” His mystical interests—also inspired by a study of Hinduism, under the Theosophist Mohini Chatterjee, and the occult—formed much of the basis of his late poetry. Some critics disparaged this aspect of Yeats’s work.His first significant poem was “The Island of Statues”, a fantasy work that took Edmund Spenser and Shelley for its poetic models. The piece was serialized in the Dublin University Review. Yeats wished to include it in his first collection, but it was deemed too long, and in fact, was never republished in his lifetime. Quinx Books published the poem in complete form for the first time in 2014. His first solo publication was the pamphlet Mosada: A Dramatic Poem (1886), which comprised a print run of 100 copies paid for by his father. This was followed by the collection The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889), which arranged a series of verse that dated as far back as the mid-1880s. The long title poem contains, in the words of his biographer R. F. Foster, "obscure Gaelic names, striking repetitions [and] an unremitting rhythm subtly varied as the poem proceeded through its three sections"; “The Wanderings of Oisin” is based on the lyrics of the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology and displays the influence of both Sir Samuel Ferguson and the Pre-Raphaelite poets. The poem took two years to complete and was one of the few works from this period that he did not disown in his maturity. Oisin introduces what was to become one of his most important themes: the appeal of the life of contemplation over the appeal of the life of action. Following the work, Yeats never again attempted another long poem. His other early poems, which are meditations on the themes of love or mystical and esoteric subjects, include Poems (1895), The Secret Rose (1897), and The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). The covers of these volumes were illustrated by Yeats’s friend Althea Gyles.During 1885, Yeats was involved in the formation of the Dublin Hermetic Order. The society held its first meeting on 16 June, with Yeats acting as its chairman. The same year, the Dublin Theosophical lodge was opened in conjunction with Brahmin Mohini Chatterjee, who travelled from the Theosophical Society in London to lecture. Yeats attended his first séance the following year. He later became heavily involved with the Theosophy and with hermeticism, particularly with the eclectic Rosicrucianism of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. During séances held from 1912, a spirit calling itself “Leo Africanus” apparently claimed it was Yeats’s Daemon or anti-self, inspiring some of the speculations in Per Amica Silentia Lunae. He was admitted into the Golden Dawn in March 1890 and took the magical motto Daemon est Deus inversus—translated as 'Devil is God inverted’. He was an active recruiter for the sect’s Isis-Urania Temple, and brought in his uncle George Pollexfen, Maud Gonne, and Florence Farr. Although he reserved a distaste for abstract and dogmatic religions founded around personality cults, he was attracted to the type of people he met at the Golden Dawn. He was involved in the Order’s power struggles, both with Farr and Macgregor Mathers, and was involved when Mathers sent Aleister Crowley to repossess Golden Dawn paraphernalia during the “Battle of Blythe Road”. After the Golden Dawn ceased and splintered into various offshoots, Yeats remained with the Stella Matutina until 1921. Maud Gonne In 1889, Yeats met Maud Gonne, a 23-year-old English heiress and ardent Irish Nationalist. She was eighteen months younger than Yeats and later claimed she met the poet as a “paint-stained art student.” Gonne admired “The Island of Statues” and sought out his acquaintance. Yeats began an obsessive infatuation, and she had a significant and lasting effect on his poetry and his life thereafter. In later years he admitted, "it seems to me that she [Gonne] brought into my life those days—for as yet I saw only what lay upon the surface—the middle of the tint, a sound as of a Burmese gong, an over-powering tumult that had yet many pleasant secondary notes." Yeats’s love was unrequited, in part due to his reluctance to participate in her nationalist activism.In 1891 he visited Gonne in Ireland and proposed marriage, but was rejected. He later admitted that from that point “the troubling of my life began”. Yeats proposed to Gonne three more times: in 1899, 1900 and 1901. She refused each proposal, and in 1903, to his dismay, married the Irish nationalist Major John MacBride. His only other love affair during this period was with Olivia Shakespear, whom he first met in 1894, and parted from in 1897. Yeats derided MacBride in letters and in poetry. He was horrified by Gonne’s marriage, at losing his muse to another man; in addition, her conversion to Catholicism before marriage offended him; Yeats was Protestant/agnostic. He worried his muse would come under the influence of the priests and do their bidding.Gonne’s marriage to MacBride was a disaster. This pleased Yeats, as Gonne began to visit him in London. After the birth of her son, Seán MacBride, in 1904, Gonne and MacBride agreed to end the marriage, although they were unable to agree on the child’s welfare. Despite the use of intermediaries, a divorce case ensued in Paris in 1905. Gonne made a series of allegations against her husband with Yeats as her main 'second’, though he did not attend court or travel to France. A divorce was not granted, for the only accusation that held up in court was that MacBride had been drunk once during the marriage. A separation was granted, with Gonne having custody of the baby and MacBride having visiting rights. Yeats’s friendship with Gonne ended, yet, in Paris in 1908, they finally consummated their relationship. “The long years of fidelity rewarded at last” was how another of his lovers described the event. Yeats was less sentimental and later remarked that “the tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.” The relationship did not develop into a new phase after their night together, and soon afterwards Gonne wrote to the poet indicating that despite the physical consummation, they could not continue as they had been: “I have prayed so hard to have all earthly desire taken from my love for you and dearest, loving you as I do, I have prayed and I am praying still that the bodily desire for me may be taken from you too.” By January 1909, Gonne was sending Yeats letters praising the advantage given to artists who abstain from sex. Nearly twenty years later, Yeats recalled the night with Gonne in his poem “A Man Young and Old”: In 1896, Yeats was introduced to Lady Gregory by their mutual friend Edward Martyn. Gregory encouraged Yeats’s nationalism and convinced him to continue focusing on writing drama. Although he was influenced by French Symbolism, Yeats concentrated on an identifiably Irish content and this inclination was reinforced by his involvement with a new generation of younger and emerging Irish authors. Together with Lady Gregory, Martyn, and other writers including J. M. Synge, Seán O’Casey, and Padraic Colum, Yeats was one of those responsible for the establishment of the “Irish Literary Revival” movement. Apart from these creative writers, much of the impetus for the Revival came from the work of scholarly translators who were aiding in the discovery of both the ancient sagas and Ossianic poetry and the more recent folk song tradition in Irish. One of the most significant of these was Douglas Hyde, later the first President of Ireland, whose Love Songs of Connacht was widely admired. Abbey Theatre In 1899, Yeats, Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and George Moore began the Irish Literary Theatre to present Irish plays. The ideals of the Abbey were derived from the avant-garde French theatre, which sought to express the "ascendancy of the playwright rather than the actor-manager à l’anglais." The group’s manifesto, which Yeats wrote, declared, "We hope to find in Ireland an uncorrupted & imaginative audience trained to listen by its passion for oratory... & that freedom to experiment which is not found in the theatres of England, & without which no new movement in art or literature can succeed."The collective survived for about two years but was not successful. Working with two Irish brothers with theatrical experience, William and Frank Fay, Yeats’s unpaid yet independently wealthy secretary Annie Horniman, and the leading West End actress Florence Farr, the group established the Irish National Theatre Society. Along with Synge, they acquired property in Dublin and on 27 December 1904 opened the Abbey Theatre. Yeats’s play Cathleen ni Houlihan and Lady Gregory’s Spreading the News were featured on the opening night. Yeats remained involved with the Abbey until his death, both as a member of the board and a prolific playwright. In 1902, he helped set up the Dun Emer Press to publish work by writers associated with the Revival. This became the Cuala Press in 1904, and inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, sought to “find work for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things.” From then until its closure in 1946, the press—which was run by the poet’s sisters—produced over 70 titles; 48 of them books by Yeats himself. Yeats met the American poet Ezra Pound in 1909. Pound had travelled to London at least partly to meet the older man, whom he considered “the only poet worthy of serious study.” From that year until 1916, the two men wintered in the Stone Cottage at Ashdown Forest, with Pound nominally acting as Yeats’s secretary. The relationship got off to a rocky start when Pound arranged for the publication in the magazine Poetry of some of Yeats’s verse with Pound’s own unauthorised alterations. These changes reflected Pound’s distaste for Victorian prosody. A more indirect influence was the scholarship on Japanese Noh plays that Pound had obtained from Ernest Fenollosa’s widow, which provided Yeats with a model for the aristocratic drama he intended to write. The first of his plays modelled on Noh was At the Hawk’s Well, the first draft of which he dictated to Pound in January 1916.The emergence of a nationalist revolutionary movement from the ranks of the mostly Roman Catholic lower-middle and working class made Yeats reassess some of his attitudes. In the refrain of "Easter, 1916" ("All changed, changed utterly / A terrible beauty is born"), Yeats faces his own failure to recognise the merits of the leaders of the Easter Rising, due to his attitude towards their ordinary backgrounds and lives.Yeats was close to Lady Gregory and her home place of Coole Park, Co, Galway. He would often visit and stay there as it was a central meeting place for people who supported the resurgence of Irish literature and cultural traditions. His poem, “The Wild Swans at Coole” was written there, between 1916 and 1917. He wrote prefaces for two books of Irish mythological tales, compiled by Augusta, Lady Gregory: Cuchulain of Muirthemne (1902), and Gods and Fighting Men (1904). In the preface of the latter, he wrote: “One must not expect in these stories the epic lineaments, the many incidents, woven into one great event of, let us say the War for the Brown Bull of Cuailgne or that of the last gathering at Muirthemne.” Politics Yeats was an Irish Nationalist, who sought a kind of traditional lifestyle articulated through poems such as 'The Fisherman’. However, as his life progressed, he sheltered much of his revolutionary spirit and distanced himself from the intense political landscape until 1922, when he was appointed Senator for the Irish Free State.In the earlier part of his life, Yeats was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Due to the escalating tension of the political scene, Yeats distanced himself from the core political activism in the midst of the Easter Rising, even holding back his poetry inspired by the events until 1920. In the 1930s Yeats was fascinated with the authoritarian, anti-democratic, nationalist movements of Europe, and he composed several marching songs for the right-wing Blueshirts, although they were never used. He was a fierce opponent of individualism and political liberalism and saw the fascist movements as a triumph of public order and the needs of the national collective over petty individualism. On the other hand, he was also an elitist who abhorred the idea of mob-rule, and saw democracy as a threat to good governance and public order. After the Blueshirt movement began to falter in Ireland, he distanced himself somewhat from his previous views, but maintained a preference for authoritarian and nationalist leadership. D. P. Moran called him a minor poet and “crypto-Protestant conman.” Marriage to Georgie Hyde Lees By 1916, Yeats was 51 years old and determined to marry and produce an heir. His rival John MacBride had been executed for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising, so Yeats hoped that his widow might remarry. His final proposal to Maud Gonne took place in mid-1916. Gonne’s history of revolutionary political activism, as well as a series of personal catastrophes in the previous few years of her life—including chloroform addiction and her troubled marriage to MacBride—made her a potentially unsuitable wife; biographer R. F. Foster has observed that Yeats’s last offer was motivated more by a sense of duty than by a genuine desire to marry her. Yeats proposed in an indifferent manner, with conditions attached, and he both expected and hoped she would turn him down. According to Foster “when he duly asked Maud to marry him and was duly refused, his thoughts shifted with surprising speed to her daughter.” Iseult Gonne was Maud’s second child with Lucien Millevoye, and at the time was twenty-one years old. She had lived a sad life to this point; conceived as an attempt to reincarnate her short-lived brother, for the first few years of her life she was presented as her mother’s adopted niece. When Maud told her that she was going to marry, Iseult cried and told her mother that she hated MacBride. When Gonne took action to divorce MacBride in 1905, the court heard allegations that he had sexually assaulted Iseult, then eleven. At fifteen, she proposed to Yeats. In 1917, he proposed to Iseult but was rejected. That September, Yeats proposed to 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968), known as George, whom he had met through Olivia Shakespear. Despite warnings from her friends—"George... you can’t. He must be dead"—Hyde-Lees accepted, and the two were married on 20 October. Their marriage was a success, in spite of the age difference, and in spite of Yeats’s feelings of remorse and regret during their honeymoon. The couple went on to have two children, Anne and Michael. Although in later years he had romantic relationships with other women, Georgie herself wrote to her husband “When you are dead, people will talk about your love affairs, but I shall say nothing, for I will remember how proud you were.”During the first years of marriage, they experimented with automatic writing; she contacted a variety of spirits and guides they called “Instructors” while in a trance. The spirits communicated a complex and esoteric system of philosophy and history, which the couple developed into an exposition using geometrical shapes: phases, cones, and gyres. Yeats devoted much time to preparing this material for publication as A Vision (1925). In 1924, he wrote to his publisher T. Werner Laurie, admitting: “I dare say I delude myself in thinking this book my book of books”. Nobel Prize In December 1923, Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”. He was aware of the symbolic value of an Irish winner so soon after Ireland had gained independence, and sought to highlight the fact at each available opportunity. His reply to many of the letters of congratulations sent to him contained the words: “I consider that this honour has come to me less as an individual than as a representative of Irish literature, it is part of Europe’s welcome to the Free State.”Yeats used the occasion of his acceptance lecture at the Royal Academy of Sweden to present himself as a standard-bearer of Irish nationalism and Irish cultural independence. As he remarked, “The theatres of Dublin were empty buildings hired by the English travelling companies, and we wanted Irish plays and Irish players. When we thought of these plays we thought of everything that was romantic and poetical because the nationalism we had called up—the nationalism every generation had called up in moments of discouragement—was romantic and poetical.” The prize led to a significant increase in the sales of his books, as his publishers Macmillan sought to capitalise on the publicity. For the first time he had money, and he was able to repay not only his own debts but those of his father. Old age and death By early 1925, Yeats’s health had stabilised, and he had completed most of the writing for A Vision (dated 1925, it actually appeared in January 1926, when he almost immediately started rewriting it for a second version). He had been appointed to the first Irish Senate in 1922, and was re-appointed for a second term in 1925. Early in his tenure, a debate on divorce arose, and Yeats viewed the issue as primarily a confrontation between the emerging Roman Catholic ethos and the Protestant minority. When the Roman Catholic Church weighed in with a blanket refusal to consider their anti position, The Irish Times countered that a measure to outlaw divorce would alienate Protestants and “crystallise” the partition of Ireland. In response, Yeats delivered a series of speeches that attacked the “quixotically impressive” ambitions of the government and clergy, likening their campaign tactics to those of “medieval Spain.” “Marriage is not to us a Sacrament, but, upon the other hand, the love of a man and woman, and the inseparable physical desire, are sacred. This conviction has come to us through ancient philosophy and modern literature, and it seems to us a most sacrilegious thing to persuade two people who hate each other... to live together, and it is to us no remedy to permit them to part if neither can re-marry.” The resulting debate has been described as one of Yeats’s “supreme public moments”, and began his ideological move away from pluralism towards religious confrontation. His language became more forceful; the Jesuit Father Peter Finlay was described by Yeats as a man of “monstrous discourtesy”, and he lamented that “It is one of the glories of the Church in which I was born that we have put our Bishops in their place in discussions requiring legislation”. During his time in the Senate, Yeats further warned his colleagues: “If you show that this country, southern Ireland, is going to be governed by Roman Catholic ideas and by Catholic ideas alone, you will never get the North... You will put a wedge in the midst of this nation”. He memorably said of his fellow Irish Protestants, “we are no petty people”. In 1924, he chaired a coinage committee charged with selecting a set of designs for the first currency of the Irish Free State. Aware of the symbolic power latent in the imagery of a young state’s currency, he sought a form that was “elegant, racy of the soil, and utterly unpolitical”. When the house finally decided on the artwork of Percy Metcalfe, Yeats was pleased, though he regretted that compromise had led to “lost muscular tension” in the finally depicted images. He retired from the Senate in 1928 because of ill health. Towards the end of his life—and especially after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and Great Depression, which led some to question whether democracy could cope with deep economic difficulty—Yeats seems to have returned to his aristocratic sympathies. During the aftermath of the First World War, he became sceptical about the efficacy of democratic government, and anticipated political reconstruction in Europe through totalitarian rule. His later association with Pound drew him towards Benito Mussolini, for whom he expressed admiration on a number of occasions. He wrote three “marching songs”—never used—for the Irish General Eoin O’Duffy’s Blueshirts. At the age of 69 he was 'rejuvenated’ by the Steinach operation which was performed on 6 April 1934 by Norman Haire. For the last five years of his life Yeats found a new vigour evident from both his poetry and his intimate relations with younger women. During this time, Yeats was involved in a number of romantic affairs with, among others, the poet and actress Margot Ruddock, and the novelist, journalist and sexual radical Ethel Mannin. As in his earlier life, Yeats found erotic adventure conducive to his creative energy, and, despite age and ill-health, he remained a prolific writer. In a letter of 1935, Yeats noted: “I find my present weakness made worse by the strange second puberty the operation has given me, the ferment that has come upon my imagination. If I write poetry it will be unlike anything I have done”. In 1936, he undertook editorship of the Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892–1935.He died at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour, in Menton, France, on 28 January 1939, aged 73. He was buried after a discreet and private funeral at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Attempts had been made at Roquebrune to dissuade the family from proceeding with the removal of the remains to Ireland due to the uncertainty of their identity. His body had earlier been exhumed and transferred to the ossuary. Yeats and George had often discussed his death, and his express wish was that he be buried quickly in France with a minimum of fuss. According to George, "His actual words were 'If I die, bury me up there [at Roquebrune] and then in a year’s time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in Sligo’." In September 1948, Yeats’s body was moved to the churchyard of St Columba’s Church, Drumcliff, County Sligo, on the Irish Naval Service corvette LÉ Macha. The person in charge of this operation for the Irish Government was Seán MacBride, son of Maud Gonne MacBride, and then Minister of External Affairs. His epitaph is taken from the last lines of “Under Ben Bulben”, one of his final poems: French ambassador Stanislas Ostroróg was involved in returning the remains of the Irish poet from France to Ireland in 1948; in a letter to the European director of the Foreign Ministry in Paris “Ostrorog tells how Yeats’s son Michael sought official help in locating the poet’s remains. Neither Michael Yeats nor Sean MacBride, the Irish foreign minister who organised the ceremony, wanted to know the details of how the remains were collected, Ostrorog notes. He repeatedly urges caution and discretion and says the Irish ambassador in Paris should not be informed.” Yeats’ body was exhumed in 1946 and the remains were moved to on ossuary and mixed with other remains. The French Foreign Ministry authorized Ostrorog to secretly cover the cost of repatriation from his slush fund. Authorities were worried about the fact that the much-loved poet’s remains were thrown into a communal grave, causing embarrassment for both Ireland and France. “Mr Rebouillat, (a) forensic doctor in Roquebrune would be able to reconstitute a skeleton presenting all the characteristics of the deceased.” per a letter from Ostroróg to his superiors. Style Yeats is considered one of the key twentieth century English language poets. He was a Symbolist poet, using allusive imagery and symbolic structures throughout his career. He chose words and assembled them so that, in addition to a particular meaning, they suggest abstract thoughts that may seem more significant and resonant. His use of symbols is usually something physical that is both itself and a suggestion of other, perhaps immaterial, timeless qualities.Unlike other modernists who experimented with free verse, Yeats was a master of the traditional forms. The impact of modernism on his work can be seen in the increasing abandonment of the more conventionally poetic diction of his early work in favour of the more austere language and more direct approach to his themes that increasingly characterises the poetry and plays of his middle period, comprising the volumes In the Seven Woods, Responsibilities and The Green Helmet. His later poetry and plays are written in a more personal vein, and the works written in the last twenty years of his life include mention of his son and daughter, as well as meditations on the experience of growing old. In his poem, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”, he describes the inspiration for these late works: During 1929, he stayed at Thoor Ballylee near Gort in County Galway (where Yeats had his summer home since 1919) for the last time. Much of the remainder of his life was lived outside Ireland, although he did lease Riversdale house in the Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham in 1932. He wrote prolifically through his final years, and published poetry, plays, and prose. In 1938, he attended the Abbey for the final time to see the premiere of his play Purgatory. His Autobiographies of William Butler Yeats was published that same year. In 1913, Yeats wrote the preface for the English translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali (Song Offering) for which Tagore received Nobel Prize in literature. While Yeats’s early poetry drew heavily on Irish myth and folklore, his later work was engaged with more contemporary issues, and his style underwent a dramatic transformation. His work can be divided into three general periods. The early poems are lushly pre-Raphaelite in tone, self-consciously ornate, and, at times, according to unsympathetic critics, stilted. Yeats began by writing epic poems such as The Isle of Statues and The Wanderings of Oisin. His other early poems are lyrics on the themes of love or mystical and esoteric subjects. Yeats’s middle period saw him abandon the pre-Raphaelite character of his early work and attempt to turn himself into a Landor-style social ironist.Critics who admire his middle work might characterize it as supple and muscular in its rhythms and sometimes harshly modernist, while others find these poems barren and weak in imaginative power. Yeats’s later work found new imaginative inspiration in the mystical system he began to work out for himself under the influence of spiritualism. In many ways, this poetry is a return to the vision of his earlier work. The opposition between the worldly-minded man of the sword and the spiritually minded man of God, the theme of The Wanderings of Oisin, is reproduced in A Dialogue Between Self and Soul.Some critics claim that Yeats spanned the transition from the nineteenth century into twentieth-century modernism in poetry much as Pablo Picasso did in painting while others question whether late Yeats has much in common with modernists of the Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot variety.Modernists read the well-known poem “The Second Coming” as a dirge for the decline of European civilisation, but it also expresses Yeats’s apocalyptic mystical theories and is shaped by the 1890s. His most important collections of poetry started with The Green Helmet (1910) and Responsibilities (1914). In imagery, Yeats’s poetry became sparer and more powerful as he grew older. The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair (1933), and New Poems (1938) contained some of the most potent images in twentieth-century poetry.Yeats’s mystical inclinations, informed by Hinduism, theosophical beliefs and the occult, provided much of the basis of his late poetry, which some critics have judged as lacking in intellectual credibility. The metaphysics of Yeats’s late works must be read in relation to his system of esoteric fundamentals in A Vision (1925). Legacy Yeats is commemorated in Sligo town by a statue, created in 1989 by sculptor Rowan Gillespie. It was erected outside the Ulster Bank, at the corner of Stephen Street and Markievicz Road, on the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death. Yeats had remarked, on receiving his Nobel Prize that the Royal Palace in Stockholm “resembled the Ulster Bank in Sligo”. Across the river is the Yeats Memorial Building, home to the Sligo Yeats Society. References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._B._Yeats

Mary Oliver

Mary Jane Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019) was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2007 The New York Times described her as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.” Early life Mary Oliver was born to Edward William and Helen M. (Vlasak) Oliver on September 10, 1935, in Maple Heights, Ohio, a semi-rural suburb of Cleveland. Her father was a social studies teacher and an athletics coach in the Cleveland public schools. As a child, she spent a great deal of time outside where she enjoyed going on walks or reading. In an interview with Maria Shriver, Oliver described her family as dysfunctional, adding that though her childhood was very hard, by writing it helped her create her own world. Oliver revealed in the interview with Shriver that she had been sexually abused as a child and had experienced recurring nightmares. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor in 1992, Oliver commented on growing up in Ohio, saying “It was pastoral, it was nice, it was an extended family. I don’t know why I felt such an affinity with the natural world except that it was available to me, that’s the first thing. It was right there. And for whatever reasons, I felt those first important connections, those first experiences being made with the natural world rather than with the social world.” Oliver began writing poetry at the age of 14. She attended the local high school in Maple Heights. In the summer of 1951 at the age of 15 she attended the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, now known as Interlochen Arts Camp, where she was in the percussion section of the National High School Orchestra. At 17 she visited the home of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, in Austerlitz, New York, where she then formed a friendship with the late poet’s sister Norma. Oliver and Norma spent the next six to seven years at the estate organizing Edna St. Vincent Millay’s papers. Oliver studied at The Ohio State University and Vassar College in the mid-1950s, but did not receive a degree at either college. Adult life and career Oliver’s first collection of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, was published in 1963, when she was 28. During the early 1980s, Oliver taught at Case Western Reserve University. Her fifth collection of poetry, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She was Poet In Residence at Bucknell University (1986) and Margaret Banister Writer in Residence at Sweet Briar College (1991), then moved to Bennington, Vermont, where she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. She won the Christopher Award and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award for her piece House of Light (1990), and New and Selected Poems (1992) won the National Book Award. Oliver’s work turns towards nature for its inspiration and describes the sense of wonder it instilled in her. “When it’s over,” she says, "I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms." ("When Death Comes" from New and Selected Poems (1992).) Her collections Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems (1999), Why I Wake Early (2004), and New and Selected Poems, Volume 2 (2004) build the themes. The first and second parts of Leaf and the Cloud are featured in The Best American Poetry 1999 and 2000, and her essays appear in Best American Essays 1996, 1998 and 2001.On a return visit to Austerlitz, in the late 1950s, Oliver met photographer Molly Malone Cook, who would become her partner for over forty years. In Our world she says “I took one look and fell, hook and tumble.” Cook was Oliver’s literary agent. They made their home largely in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where they lived until Cook’s death in 2005, and where Oliver continued to live until relocating to Florida. Greatly valuing her personal privacy, Oliver gave very few interviews, saying she preferred for her writing to speak for itself. Of Provincetown she recalled, "I too fell in love with the town, that marvelous convergence of land and water; Mediterranean light; fishermen who made their living by hard and difficult work from frighteningly small boats; and, both residents and sometime visitors, the many artists and writers.[...] M. and I decided to stay.” Death In 2012 Mary Oliver was diagnosed with lung cancer, but was treated and given a “clean bill of health”. She ultimately died of lymphoma on January 17, 2019, at her home in Florida. Poetic identity Mary Oliver’s poetry is grounded in memories of Ohio and her adopted home of New England, setting most of her poetry in and around Provincetown after she moved there in the 1960s. Influenced by both Whitman and Thoreau, she is known for her clear and poignant observances of the natural world. In fact, according to the 1983 Chronology of American Literature, the “American Primitive,” one of Oliver’s collection of poems, “...presents a new kind of Romanticism that refuses to acknowledge boundaries between nature and the observing self.” Her creativity was stirred by nature, and Oliver, an avid walker, often pursued inspiration on foot. Her poems are filled with imagery from her daily walks near her home: shore birds, water snakes, the phases of the moon and humpback whales. In Long life she says "[I] go off to my woods, my ponds, my sun-filled harbor, no more than a blue comma on the map of the world but, to me, the emblem of everything." She commented in a rare interview “When things are going well, you know, the walk does not get rapid or get anywhere: I finally just stop, and write. That’s a successful walk!” She said that she once found herself walking in the woods with no pen and later hid pencils in the trees so she would never be stuck in that place again. She often carried a 3-by-5-inch hand-sewn notebook for recording impressions and phrases. Maxine Kumin called Oliver “a patroller of wetlands in the same way that Thoreau was an inspector of snowstorms.” Oliver stated that her favorite poets consisted of Walt Whitman, Rumi, Hafez, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.Oliver has also been compared to Emily Dickinson, with whom she shared an affinity for solitude and inner monologues. Her poetry combines dark introspection with joyous release. Although she was criticized for writing poetry that assumes a dangerously close relationship of women with nature, she found the self is only strengthened through an immersion with nature. Oliver is also known for her unadorned language and accessible themes. The Harvard Review describes her work as an antidote to “inattention and the baroque conventions of our social and professional lives. She is a poet of wisdom and generosity whose vision allows us to look intimately at a world not of our making.” Critical reviews Maxine Kumin describes Mary Oliver in the Women’s Review of Books as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Reviewing Dream Work for The Nation, critic Alicia Ostriker numbered Oliver among America’s finest poets: "visionary as Emerson [... she is] among the few American poets who can describe and transmit ecstasy, while retaining a practical awareness of the world as one of predators and prey." New York Times reviewer Bruce Bennetin stated that the Pulitzer Prize–winning collection American Primitive, “insists on the primacy of the physical” while Holly Prado of Los Angeles Times Book Review noted that it “touches a vitality in the familiar that invests it with a fresh intensity.”Vicki Graham suggests Oliver over-simplifies the affiliation of gender and nature: “Oliver’s celebration of dissolution into the natural world troubles some critics: her poems flirt dangerously with romantic assumptions about the close association of women with nature that many theorists claim put the woman writer at risk.” In her article “The Language of Nature in the Poetry of Mary Oliver”, Diane S. Bond echoes that “few feminists have wholeheartedly appreciated Oliver’s work, and though some critics have read her poems as revolutionary reconstructions of the female subject, others remain skeptical that identification with nature can empower women.” In The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Sue Russell notes that “Mary Oliver will never be a balladeer of contemporary lesbian life in the vein of Marilyn Hacker, or an important political thinker like Adrienne Rich; but the fact that she chooses not to write from a similar political or narrative stance makes her all the more valuable to our collective culture.” Selected awards and honors 1969/70 Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. 1980 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for American Primitive 1991 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for House of Light 1992 National Book Award for Poetry for New and Selected Poems 1998 Lannan Literary Award for poetry 1998 Honorary Doctorate from The Art Institute of Boston 2003 Honorary membership into Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University. 2007 Honorary Doctorate Dartmouth College 2008 Honorary Doctorate Tufts University 2012 Honorary Doctorate from Marquette University 2012 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Poetry for A Thousand Mornings References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Oliver

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“Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony.” —Guillaume Apollinaire

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“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” —William Wordsworth

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