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History of the Plutzik Reading Series

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Dannie Abse
Edward Albee
John Ashberry
James Baldwin
Toni Cade Bambara
John Barth
Dan Beachy-Quick
Madison Smartt Bell
John Berryman
Linda Bierds
Elizabeth Bishop
Gwendolyn Brooks
J. M. Coetzee
Robert Coover
Robert Creeley
Robertson Davies
Lydia Davis
Kathryn Davis
Samuel Delany
James Dickey
Daniel Donaghy
Beverly Donofrio
Rita Dove
Rikki Ducornet
Ralph Ellison
Clayton Eshleman
Brian Evenson
Alan Ginsberg
Dana Gioia
Joy Harjo
Matthea Harvey
Anthony Hecht
John Hollander
Maureen Howard
Richard Howard
Fanny Howe
Christine Hume
Shelly Jackson
LeRoi Jones
Erica Jong
Ilya Kaminsky
Sally Keith
Galway Kinnell
Maxine Kumin
Denise Levertov
James Longenbach
Robert Lowell
Alison Lurie
Nathaniel Mackey
Gerard Malenga
Ben Markus
Heather McHugh
Christopher Merrill
W. S. Merwin
Stephen Millhauser
Rick Moody
Michael Ondaatje
Alicia Ostriker
Michael Palmer
Carl Phillips
Tom Piazza
Marge Piercy
Robert Pinsky
Bin Ramke
Donald Revell
Adrienne Rich
Salman Rushdie
Joanna Scott
Alan Shapiro
William De Witt Snodgrass
John Updike
Helen Vendler
Ellen Bryant Voigt
Andrei Vosnesensky
Derek Walcott
Richard Wilbur
C K Williams
James Wright
Charles Wright
Dean Young
Paul Zimmer

John Berryman
16 Nov 1965
More about John Berryman

John Berryman was born John Smith in MacAlester, Oklahoma, in 1914. He received an undergraduate degree from Columbia College in 1936 and attended Cambridge University on a fellowship. He taught at Wayne State University in Detroit and went on to occupy posts at Harvard and Princeton. From 1955 until his death in 1972, he was a professor at the University of Minnesota.

His early work was published in a volume entitled Five Young American Poets in 1940 and reflects the influences of the Irish and British poets W. B. Yeats, W. H. Auden, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Americans Hart Crane and Ezra Pound. Tremendously erudite and a brilliant teacher, Berryman in his early work — Poems (1942) and The Dispossessed (1948) — displayed great technical control in poems that remained firmly rooted in the conventions of the time.

It was not until the publication of Homage to Mistress Bradstreet in 1956, when he was already in his forties, that he won widespread recognition and acclaim as a boldly original and innovative poet. Nevertheless, no one was prepared for the innovation that would follow, a collection that would seal Berryman's reputation as an essential American original: 77 Dream Songs, which was published in 1964 and awarded a Pulitzer Prize, unveiled the unforgettable and irrepressible alter egos "Henry" and "Mr. Bones" in a sequence of sonnet-like poems whose wrenched syntax, scrambled diction, extraordinary leaps of language and tone, and wild mixture of high lyricism and low comedy plumbed the extreme reaches of a human soul and psyche. In succeeding years Berryman added to the sequence, until there were nearly four hundred collected as The Dream Songs.

John Berryman was elected a Fellow of The Academy of American Poets in 1966 and served as a Chancellor from 1968 until his death.

Text from poets.org

Picture from americanpoems.com
Copyright © 2005 University of Rochester
Photographs + Manuscripts: Plutzik Papers, Dept. of Rare Books, University of Rochester Libraries

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