Jacobsen (1908-2003), born on the shore of Lake Ontario, Canada, while her American parents were on vacation, was educated at Roland Park Country School in Baltimore. Her poetry, published in nine volumes, is known for its spare, elegant language on a broad range of topics. She also wrote short stories and literary criticism. Jacobsen generously advised struggling writers. She received the Shelley Memorial Award in 1994 and the Robert Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry in 1997.
Hoffman (1923-2013), born in New York City, was educated at Columbia, through to the Ph.D. He is the author of nine books of poetry, including “Hang-Gliding from Helicon: New and Selected Poems”; a verse novel, “Middens of the Tribe,” and “Brotherly Love,” a finalist for the National Book Award in 1985. His poetry is noted for merging history, myth and personal experience. He is Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kunitz (1905-2006), born in Worcester, Mass., graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s in 1926 and a master’s in 1927. He is the author of 10 books of poetry, including “Selected Poems, 1928-1958,” which won the 1959 Pulitzer Prize and “Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected,” which won the 1995 National Book Award. He won the Bollingen Prize in 1987. Kunitz founded the Poets House in New York City and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass. He taught for many years in the graduate writing program at Columbia University.
Hayden (1913-1980) was born in Detroit and raised by foster parents. In pursuit of a master’s degree at the University of Michigan, he studied under W. H. Auden. In 1940, he published his first book of poems, “Heart-Shape in the Dust.” He taught several years at Michigan and for 23 years at Fisk University. He was the first African-American to be appointed Consultant in Poetry. Besides religion and nature, Hayden had an interest in African-American history and explored his concerns about race in his work.
Meredith (1919-2007) was born in New York City and graduated in 1940 from Princeton University, where he first began to write poetry. He served as a naval pilot during the Second World War and the Korean War. He is the author of nine books of poetry. “Effort at Speech” won the National Book Award in 1987, and “Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Since 1955, he taught primarily at Connecticut College.