Reed Whittemore

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Reed Whittemore
Reed Whittemore.jpg
BornEdward Reed Whittemore, Jr.
(1919-09-11)September 11, 1919
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
DiedApril 6, 2012(2012-04-06) (aged 92)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materYale University

Edward Reed Whittemore, Jr. (September 11, 1919 – April 6, 2012[1]) was an American poet, biographer, critic, literary journalist and college professor. He was appointed the sixteenth and later the twenty-eighth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1964, and in 1984.[2]


Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Whittemore attended Phillips Academy and received a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1941. As a sophomore at Yale, he and his roommate James Angleton started a literary magazine called Furioso which became one of the most famous "little magazines" of its day and published many notable poets including Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. "It was the ne plus ultra of little magazines" according to Victor Navasky. The magazine was published intermittently until 1953. After service in the Army, he published his first volume of poetry in 1946. From 1947 to 1966, he was a professor of English at Carleton College. While at Carleton he renewed his magazine under the name the Carleton Miscellany and published many first-time poets such as Charles Wright. He taught at the University of Maryland College Park until 1984.

Whittemore was Poet Laureate of Maryland and twice served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

His poetry is notable for its wry and deflating humor. The poet X.J. Kennedy remarked that "his whole career has been one brave protest against dullness and stodginess." His book The Mother's Breast and the Father's House was a finalist for the National Book Award for poetry. He is the recipient of the National Council on the Arts Award for lifelong contribution to American Letters and the Award of Merit Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In November 2007 Dryad Press published his memoir, Against The Grain: The Literary Life of a Poet, with an introduction by Garrison Keillor.

At the time of his death Whittemore resided in College Park, Maryland, with his wife Helen.


  • Heroes & Heroines (1946)
  • An American Takes a Walk (1956)
  • The Self-Made Man (1959)
  • The Boy from Iowa (1962)
  • Poems, New and Selected (1967)
  • Fifty Poems Fifty (1970)
  • The Mother's Breast and the Father's House (1974)
  • The Feel of Rock: Poems of Three Decades (1982)
  • The Past, the Future, the Present: Poems Selected and New (1990)
  • Ten from Ten & One More (2007)
  • The Season of Waiting: Selected Poems: 1946-2006 (Hebrew trans by Moseh Dor) (2007)
  • The Little Magazine and Contemporary Literature (1966)
  • From Zero to Absolute (1967)
  • The Fascination of the Abomination: Poems, stories, essays (1963)
  • William Carlos Williams: Poet from Jersey (1975)
  • The Poet as Journalist: Life at the New Republic (1976)
  • Pure Lives: The Early Biographers (1988)
  • Whole Lives: Shapers of Modern Biography (1989)
  • Six Literary Lives (1993)
  • Against The Grain: The Literary Life of a Poet, a Memoir by Reed Whittemore (2007)


  1. ^ Adam Bernstein (April 10, 2012). "Reed Whittemore, former poet laureate, dies at 92". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  2. ^ "Poet Laureate Timeline: 1953-1960". Library of Congress. 2008. Retrieved December 19, 2008.

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