Strand (1934-2014), born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, received a BA from Antioch College, a BFA from Yale and an MA from the University of Iowa. The author of 10 books of poems, including Blizzard of One—which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999—he received many honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Strand also published a collection of stories, Mr. and Mrs. Baby; many translations; and several anthologies. He taught in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and was professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University from 2005 until his death in 2014.
Brodsky (1940-1996), born in Leningrad, left school at age 15 and worked at many occupations, including a milling machine operator and a geologist-prospector. He began writing poetry at age 18 and studied with Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. After Brodsky was exiled in 1972, he came to the United States. He wrote nine volumes of poetry, including the 1980 acclaimed collection “A Part of Speech.” His 1986 collection of essays, “Less Than One,” won the National Book Critic’s Award for criticism. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987.
Mona Van Duyn
Van Duyn (1921-2004), born in Waterloo, Iowa, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a master’s from the University of Iowa. There were six women Consultants in Poetry, but Van Duyn was the first woman Poet Laureate. From 1947-67, she co-edited and co-published Perspective: A Quarterly of Literature. Her poetry collection, “Near Changes,” earned her the 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Other honors include the 1971 National Book Award for “To See, To Take,” and the 1971 Bollingen Prize.
Dove (1952- ), born in Akron, Ohio, was a 1970 Presidential Scholar as one of the 100 best high school graduates in the United States that year. She received a bachelor’s from Miami University of Ohio and a master’s from the University of Iowa. Her poetry collection, “Thomas and Beulah,” won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize. She also wrote “Grace Notes” (1989), a volume of short stories, and “Through the Ivory Gate” (1992), a novel. Her most recent book of poetry is “American Smooth” (2004). Dove is a professor of English at the University of Virginia.
Hass (1941- ) was born in San Francisco. He received his B.A. from St. Mary’s College in California and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. His first collection of poetry, “Field Guide” (1973), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His collection of essays, “Twentieth Century Pleasures,” won the National Book Critics Award in 1985. Hass also has helped poet Czeslaw Milosz translate his works. Hass teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.
Pinsky (1940- ), born in New Jersey, is the first Poet Laureate to serve an unprecedented three consecutive terms. He attended Rutgers College and Stanford University, where he held a Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing. He is the author of six books of poetry, including “Jersey Rain” (2000) and “The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996.” In 1994, his translation of Dante’s “Inferno” became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and a bestseller. Pinsky is poetry editor of Slate, an Internet magazine, and a teacher in the creative writing program at Boston University.
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Special Bicentennial Consultants
Rita Dove, Louise Glück, and W.S. Merwin
Rita Dove (1952- ) also served as Poet Laureate from 1993-95. Louise Glück (1943- ) was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University. She is the author of nine books of poetry, including “The Wild Iris,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Her poetry book “Ararat” (1990) received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. Other honors include the Bollingen Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. She teaches at Williams College. W. S. Merwin (1927- ) Merwin was born in New York City and educated at Princeton University. He traveled extensively in France, Portugal and England. He is the author of more than 15 books of poetry. “A Mask for Janus,” his first book in 1952, was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. “The Carrier of Ladders” won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize. He also published nearly 20 books of translation, numerous plays and four books of prose. He lives in Hawaii.
Kunitz (1905-2006), also served as Consultant in Poetry (before the title was changed to “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry” with the passage in 1985 of P.L. 99-194) from 1974 to 1976. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1905. His other honors include the National Medal of the Arts (presented to him by President Clinton in 1993), the Bollingen Prize, a Ford Foundation grant, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, Harvard’s Centennial Medal, the Levinson Prize, the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, a senior fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Shelley Memorial Award. He was designated State Poet of New York, and is a Chancellor Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets. A founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Poets House in New York City, he taught for many years in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. He lives in New York City and in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Read more about Stanley Kunitz