Jack Gilbert

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For other uses, see Jack Gilbert (disambiguation).

Jack Gilbert (February 18, 1925 – November 13, 2012) was an American poet.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania neighborhood of East Liberty,[2] he attended Peabody High School before failing out. Gilbert then worked as a door-to-door salesman, an exterminator, and a steelworker. Due to a clerical error, he was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in 1954. It was during these college years that he and his classmate Gerald Stern developed a serious interest in poetry and writing. Later, he received his Master's degree from San Francisco State University in 1963.[1]

Career[edit]

After college, Gilbert went to Paris and worked briefly at the Herald Tribune before moving to Italy. Gilbert spent several years there before moving to San Francisco and then to New York, where his life as a poet began. His work has been distinguished by simple lyricism and straightforward clarity of tone, as well as a resonating control over his emotions: “We look up at the stars and they are / not there. We see memory / of when they were, once upon a time. / And that too is more than enough.” His first book of poetry, Views of Jeopardy, (1962) won the Yale Younger Poets Prize and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize,[1] while Gilbert was quickly recognized and made into something of a media darling.[3] He then retreated from his earlier activity in the San Francisco poetry scene, where he had participated in Jack Spicer's Poetry as Magic workshop,[2] and moved to Europe. Living on a Guggenheim Fellowship[4] he toured 15 countries as a lecturer on American Literature for the U.S. State Department and lived in England, Denmark, and Greece.[2] Nearly the whole of his career after the publication of his first book of poetry was marked by what he described as "a self-imposed isolation."[4] His books of poetry were few and far between; however he continuously maintained his writing and contributed to The American Poetry Review, Genesis West, The Quarterly, Poetry, Ironwood, The Kenyon Review, and The New Yorker.

Personal life[edit]

While in Italy Gilbert met Gianna Gelmetti, the first of three great loves. Gelmetti's family, however, saw that he would not provide her with financial security and convinced him to end the relationship. Gilbert was a close friend of the poet Linda Gregg who was once his student and with whom he was in a relationship for six years. Of the poet, Gregg once said, "All Jack ever wanted to know was that he was awake—that the trees in bloom were almond trees—and to walk down the road to get breakfast. He never cared if he was poor or had to sleep on a park bench."[4][5] He was also in a significant long-term relationship with the poet Laura Ulewicz during the late fifties and early sixties in San Francisco. Ulewicz was a great influence on his early work, and his first book was dedicated to her. Gilbert's last marriage was to Michiko Nogami,[6] another former student and a sculptor 21 years his junior, about whom he wrote many of his poems. Nogami died of cancer at the age of 36; their relationship is often considered Gilbert's most significant and most influential.[4]Gilbert died on November 13, 2012 in Berkeley, California.[1] He was 87. On April 15, 2013 it was announced that Gilbert's Collected Poems was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The Pulitzer jury's citation read:

Awards[edit]

Poetry collections[edit]

  • Views of Jeopardy Yale University Press, 1962
  • Monolithos Graywolf Press, 1984, ISBN 9780915308422
  • Kochan (1984), A limited edition chapbook of nine poems, two of which were later republished in The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992; seven of the poems have not been otherwise published, including "Nights and Four Thousand Mornings," the longest poem Gilbert has published
  • The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992 Knopf, 1994
  • Refusing Heaven Knopf, 2005
  • Tough Heaven: Poems of Pittsburgh Pond Road Press, 2006
  • Transgressions: Selected Poems Bloodaxe, 2006
  • The Dance Most of All Knopf, 2010
  • Collected Poems Knopf, 2012

Novels[edit]

Two erotic novels co-authored with Jean Maclean and published by the short-lived Danish Olympia Press under the pseudonym Tor Kung:

  • My Mother Taught Me (1964) From the book jacket: "This is the tale of Lars, a Swedish boy, raised in an all-male orphanage without ever seeing even pictures of women, adopted into a new household with enthusiastic siblings and an energetic foster-mother."
  • Forever Ecstasy (1968) From the book jacket: "An amazing story about schoolboys, led by Paul and the devious but cowardly Rick, who at the end of the schoolyear find themselves holding a young geometry teacher... right where they want her."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Penner, John (14 November 2012). "Jack Gilbert dies at 87; unconventional poet knew fame and obscurity". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Profile at Poets.org
  3. ^ Haglund, David (13 November 2012). "Jack Gilbert, American Poet, Dies at 87". Slate. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Poetry Foundation profile
  5. ^ Slate article
  6. ^ Garner, Dwight (March 13, 2012). "‘Collected Poems' by Jack Gilbert". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation
  8. ^ Fellow Guggenhein Foundation.
  9. ^ Jack Jilbert:Poetry Award Lannan Foundation, official web site.
  10. ^ The Pulitzer Prizes - Finalists, Columbia University, 2013, retrieved 8 April 2013 

Further reading[edit]

  • Genesis West volume one, published in the fall of 1962, is a celebration of Jack Gilbert's poetry. This volume includes poems by Jack and an interview by Gordon Lish.
  • Allen Randolph, Jody. Interview with Jack Gilbert. Lannan Foundation: Readings and Conversations Series. VHS. Los Angeles: Lannan Foundation, 1997.

External links[edit]