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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Current Poet Laureate > Past Poets Laureate: 1961-1970
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1961-1963

Louis Untermeyer

Louis Untermeyer

Born in New York City, Untermeyer (1885-1977) first worked for his father's jewelry manufacturing company, but left in 1923 to concentrate on writing. He wrote several volumes of his own poetry, but he is best known as a critic and anthologist. His most famous anthology is "Modern American Poetry and Modern British Poetry" (1969). Untermeyer also lectured on poetry, drama and music..

1963-1964

Howard Nemerov

Howard Nemerov

Nemerov (1920-1991), born in New York City, served as a pilot for the Royal Canadian unit of the U.S. Army Air Corp. over the North Sea during World War II. He was a versatile writer, producing novels, short stories, plays and essays, in addition to his many volumes of poetry. In 1978, his "Collected Poems" won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He served as Distinguished Poet in Residence at Washington University in St. Louis from 1969 until his death..

1964-1965

Reed Whittemore

Reed Whittemore

Whittemore (1919-2012), born in New Haven, Conn., and graduated from Yale, is known for his witty, graceful verse. In addition to eight collections of poems, Whittemore wrote a biography of William Carlos Williams. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he taught at Carleton College in Minnesota. He was editor of Furioso, a literary magazine that he started at Yale and then revived at Carleton, later known as Carleton Miscellany. He was a professor of English at the University of Maryland from 1967-84.

1965-1966

Stephen Spender

Stephen Spender

Sir Stephen Harold Spender (1909-1995), who was knighted in 1983, was born in London and educated at the University College School in London and at Oxford University. His early poetry was inspired by social protest, but critics preferred his later introspective, autobiographical poems. He cofounded and coedited (1939-41) Horizon, a literary monthly, and Encounter magazine (1953-66).

1966-1968

James Dickey

James Dickey

Dickey (1923-1997), born in Atlanta, was a high school football star. He flew combat missions in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Vanderbilt University and studied further at Rice University. His two most famous volumes of verse are “Helmets” (1964) and “Buckdancer’s Choice” (1965), which won the 1966 National Book Award. In 1970, he wrote the best-selling novel “Deliverance,” which was made into a major motion picture.

1968-1970

William Jay Smith

William Jay Smith

Smith (1918- ) was born in Louisiana but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s from Washington University in St. Louis. Besides his 10 collections of poetry, Smith wrote criticism, translations and children’s literature. He is particularly noted for his translations of French, Hungarian, Dutch and Brazilian poetry. Smith taught at Williams College, Columbia University and Hollins College. His most recent work is “The World Beneath the Window: Poems 1937-1997.”

1970-1971

William Stafford

William Stafford

Stafford (1914-1993), born in Hutchison, Kansas, received a bachelor’s and a master’s from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and, in 1954, a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Ordinary life was the subject of much of his poetry. He published more than 65 volumes of poetry and prose, and won many awards and honors, including a Shelley Memorial Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He won the National Book Award in 1963 for “Traveling Through the Dark.” Stafford taught at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon from 1948 to 1980.

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