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Some Biographical notes on Modernist Poets

Some Biographical notes on Modernist Poets

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Published by Ron Silliman
Background for English 111 class
Background for English 111 class

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Published by: Ron Silliman on Feb 05, 2013
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02/05/2013

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A terrific resource of all modes of modern & post-modern poetry is Al Filreis’ English 88 links list Gertrude Stein, 1874

– 1946               Born in Allegheny, PA (now part of Pittsburgh) 1877 – 78, Paris & Vienna 1878 – 1891 in Oakland, CA – her father is an investor and director of the Market Street Railway in SF 1892 – after death of her parents, moves to Baltimore Radcliffe, 1893 – 1897, becomes protégé of William James Two years of med school at Johns Hopkins London to meet up with Leo in 1902 Paris from 1903 to 1946 Writes Making of Americans 1906 – 1908 (1902 – 1911) Meets Alice B Toklas 1907 First book, Three Lives 1909 Tender Buttons, 1912 (published 1914) The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (1934) makes Stein a public figure US tour of 1934 – 35

William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963              Born in Rutherford, NJ Schooled in Rutherford until 14, then two years in Europe, then Horace Mann in NYC Went to Penn Medical School, 1902 – 1906 – Knows Pound, HD and Moore Practices medicine in Rutherford First book 1909, second book 1912 in London thanks to Pound From 1915 onward, hangs out with the Others, NYC-based artists with interests in modernism (Kreymbourg, Man Ray, Arensberg, Wallace Stevens & Marianne Moore et al) 1920: Kora in Hell 1923, Spring and All First Collected Poems in 1934 The Wedge, 1944 Paterson written in the 1940s The Desert Music (1954), Pictures from Breughel (1962) “The Desert Modernism,” my essay on WCW

Ezra Pound, 1885 - 1972       Born in Hailey, Idaho, not yet a state Raised in Philadelphia suburbs of Jenkintown & Wyncote Quaker schools until 1898, then military academy Accepted at Penn at 15, he had been publishing poetry for 4 years Travels to Europe at 13 “I resolved that at 30 I would know more about poetry than any man living, that I would know
what was accounted poetry everywhere, what part of poetry was "indestructible," what part could not be lost by translation and – scarcely less important – what effects were obtainable in one language only and were utterly incapable of being translated.” Repeated trips to Europe, time at Hamilton College, gets MA from Penn but leaves ABD Teaches at Wabash, but is soon fired Moves to London (1908), gets book accepted by one of Yeats’ publishers (1908) marries the daughter of Yeats’ ex-secretary, first vol. of critical writing (1910), founds imagism (1912), becomes European editor for Poetry, becomes Yeats’ secretary ( 1913), gets Joyce’s Portrait published (1914), etc etc etc Works on Cantos without success 1915 – 1922, begins again in ‘22 Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, 1920 Paris 1921-24

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Italy 1924 – 45 First vol. of The Cantos, published in Paris 1925 Increasing infatuation with Mussolini and fascism in Italy POW, Pisa 1946, The Pisan Cantos 1947 – 1958, St. Elizabeths, Washington, DC – the Ezuversity 1959 – 1972, Italy again

Marianne Moore, 1887 – 1972          Born in Kirkwood, MO Never met her father Attended Bryn Mawr, 1905 – 1909 Taught at Carlisle Indian School, 1909 – 1915 Began publishing in 1915, in touch with Pound from 1919 onward First book, Poems, is published without her knowledge or permission by HD & Bryher in 1921 Editor of The Dial 1925 – 29 Her second book under her own initiative is already a Selected Poems, 1935, with preface by TS Eliot Interview by Donald Hall for Paris Review

Hilda Doolittle (HD), 1886 – 1961               Born in Bethlehem, PA, part of the Moravian community there Her father Charles taught at Lehigh University & later at Penn Family moves to Upper Darby in 1986 Attends Friends Central, graduating in 1905 In 1901, Pound takes a course with Charles Doolittle, meets HD HD studies at Bryn Mawr, drops out because of poor grades & poor health Meets William Carlos Williams & Marianne Moore while at Bryn Mawr Engaged to Pound 1907 – 08, involved with Frances Gregg a student at PAFA & goes to Europe with Gregg, where she meets Richard Aldington 1912 – Pound, HD, Aldington create Imagism Marries Aldington, has daughter by another writer, “rescued” by Bryher, later marries Robert McAlmon for a short period. Bryher later marries HD’s male lover Kenneth Macpherson. 1920s, writes on cinema, makes movies 1933, patient of Freud – considers herself his collaborator WW2, writes Trilogy, first long poem by a modernist woman In Sanitariums in Switzerland after the War until her death

Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967   Born Joplin, MO, raised in Lawrence, KS, Lincoln, IL & Cleveland Complicated heritage (paternal grandparents were slave owners, difficult relation with father), his mixed-race grandmother attended Oberlin (her first husband died among John Brown’s raiders) Questions over his sexuality continue Columbia University, 1921; Lincoln University, 1926 – 29 (Thurgood Marshall classmate) Travels to Europe & West Africa 1923 – 26 Begins publishing in 1921, associated with Harlem Renaissance in ‘20s – 30’s Except for a period in 1930s in Westfield, NJ, lives in Harlem rest of his life. Working as a journalist as well as author, Hughes is a public intellectual that Stein, Moore and Pound can only aspire to. Hughes’ “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” in The Nation, 1926 Hughes’ “My Adventures as a Social Poet” (1947) The Langton Hughes Society

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