Philip Booth (poet)

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Philip Edmund Booth (October 8, 1925 – July 2, 2007) was an American poet and educator; he has been called "Maine's clearest poetic voice."[1]


Booth was born in 1925 in Hanover, New Hampshire. Booth served in the United States Air Force in the Second World War. He then attended Dartmouth College, where he studied with Robert Frost; he received his B.A. in 1947. He subsequently received an M.A. from Columbia University. Booth married Margaret Tillman in 1946; they had three daughters.[2] He spent much of his time living in Castine, Maine in a house that has been handed down through his family for five generations.

Booth was an instructor and professor of English and of creative writing at Dartmouth College, Bowdoin College, Wellesley College, and at Syracuse University.[3] Booth was one of the founders of the Creative Writing program at Syracuse. One of his students, the poet Stephen Dunn, has written of his 1969-70 experience at Syracuse that, "We had come to study with Philip Booth, Donald Justice, W.D. Snodgrass, George P. Elliott, arguably the best group of writer-teachers that existed at the time."[4][5]


Booth's poetry was published in many periodical events including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Denver Quarterly. He published 10 poetry collections and one book about writing poetry (see references below). A much later poem, "Places without Names," has a more public concern:[6]

...What gene demands old men command young men to die?
The young gone singing to Antietam, Aachen, Anzio.
To Bangalore, the Choisin Reservoir, Dien Bien Phu,
My Lai. Places in the heads of men who have no
mind left...

A major essay regarding Booth's poetry was published by Guy Rotella in 1983.[7]


Bess Hok in Prize (1955).[8] Lamont Poetry Prize for Letter from a Distant Land (1956). Saturday Review Poetry Award (1957). Emily Clark Balch Prize of the Virginia Quarterly Review (1964). Theodore Roethke Prize for a poem in Poetry Northwest (1970). Syracuse University Chancellor's Citation (1981).[9] Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets (1983), the Guggenheim Foundation (1958, 1964),[10] and the Rockefeller Foundation (1968). Maurice English Poetry Award for Relations (1987).[11] Poem selected for The Best American Poetry 1999.[12] Poets' Prize (2001) for Lifelines.

Poetry collections[edit]

  • Lifelines: Selected Poems, 1950-1999 (Viking Press, 1999). ISBN 0-670-88287-9
  • Pairs (Viking Penguin, New York, 1994). ISBN 0-14-058724-1
  • Selves (Viking Penguin, New York, 1990). ISBN 0-14-058646-6
  • Relations (Viking Penguin, 1986). ISBN 0-14-058560-5
  • Before Sleep (Viking Adult, 1980). ISBN 0-670-15529-2
  • Available Light (Viking Adult, 1976). ISBN 0-670-14310-3
  • Margins (Viking Adult, 1970). ISBN 0-670-45623-3
  • Weathers and Edges (Viking Adult, 1966). ISBN 0-670-75509-5
  • The Islanders (Viking Adult, 1961). ISBN 0-670-40221-4
  • Letter from a Distant Land (Viking, 1957). ASIN B000BYR9AE

Additional bibliography[edit]

  • Booth, Philip (1996). Trying to Say It: Outlooks and Insights on How Poems Happen (University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor). ISBN 0-472-06586-6
  • Booth, Philip and Ibatoulline, Bagram (2001). Crossing (Candlewick) ISBN 0-7636-1420-3 . Children's book based on the poem "Crossing" from Letter from a Distant Land; the book was illustrated by Ibatoulline.


  1. ^ "Wilson Museum calendar, 2006". Archived from the original on 2006-09-09.
  2. ^ "Philip Booth, a Shy Poet Rooted in New England Life, Dead at 81". The New York Times. July 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  3. ^ "Philip Booth". Academy of American Poets website. Archived from the original on 2009-03-15.
  4. ^ Dunn, Stephen (Fall 2006). "Larry Levis in Syracuse". Blackbird: An Online Journal of Literature and the Arts. Archived from the original on 2008-07-27.
  5. ^ George P. Elliott (1918-1980) was an American author, poet, and educator. Elliott's papers are in the Washington University Library; see "Finding-aid for the George P. Elliott papers," retrieved December 22, 2006.
  6. ^ "Places without Names" was first included in Booth's 1994 collection Pairs, and was included also in his last collection Lifelines: Selected Poems, pp. 227-228.
  7. ^ Rotella, Guy (1983). Three Contemporary Poets of New England: William Meredith, Philip Booth, and Peter Davison (Twayne Publishers, Boston). ISBN 0-8057-7377-0 .
  8. ^ "Bess Hokin Prize". The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
  9. ^ "The Chancellor's Citation". Archived from the original on 2006-10-05.
  10. ^ Listing of Fellows, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation website. Retrieved December 20, 2006.
  11. ^ International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. Routledge. 2003. p. 64. ISBN 1-85743-179-0. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  12. ^ "Narrow Road: Presidents' Day," from The American Poetry Review. Reprinted in Bly, Robert (1999). The Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribner, 1999). ISBN 0-684-86003-1

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]