Frank O'Hara

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Grafton, Massachusetts, Frank O'Hara served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific from 1944-1946. He was educated at Harvard and the University of Michigan, after which he served as associate curator at New York's Museum of Modern Art and editor of Art News.

Frank O’Hara’s writing has an air of whimsy to it, for he felt that writing was something one must innately feel and write spontaneously. His style is relaxed and casual, yet still complicated and intricate. It has been said that he did not even keep copies of his work and many of his works were later published after his death because his friends or family had copies. He would write when inspiration hit; his work Lunch Poems was written while he ate lunch. He was not only a poet but also an art critic.

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich grew up in Baltimore and was educated at Radcliffe College. After early work that had the controlled elegance and formality characteristic of some poets in the first years of the 1950s, she began to adapt the open forms that have been central to the American tradition since Whitman. Since then, she became one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the twentieth century.

Ron Silliman

Born in Pasco, Washington, Ron Silliman grew up in Albany, California, just north of Berkeley. He was educated at Merritt College, San Francisco State University, and the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked as an organizer in prisoner and tenant movements, as well as a lobbyist, teacher, and college administrator. In the 1970s, he first edited Labyrinth for the Committee for Prisoner Humanity and Justice and then edited the Tenderloin Times for San Francisco's Central City Hospital House.

Robert Pinsky

Born in Long Branch, New Jersey, Robert Pinsky was educated at Rutgers University and Stanford University. In California, he worked with poet-critic Ivor Winters and earned a Ph.D. He has taught at several schools, translated Dante's Inferno, and published both criticism and poetry. Pinsky generally uses regular stanzas and traditional forms, modifying them when he wishes. He has drawn both from his own experience and, as with "The Unseen" and "Shirt," from modern history, balancing a will to reason with spiritual inclinations.  

Allen Tate

Tate was born John Orley Allen Tate in Winchester, Kentucky, and educated at Vanderbilt University. His roommate was Robert Penn Warren. After active participation in the Agrarian movement that advocated traditional Southern values and a nonindustrial agricultural economy, Tate went on to write a number of elegiac poems regretting the loss of heroic ideals in the contemporary world.

Genevieve Taggard

Genevieve Taggard was born in Waitsburg, Washington, where both her parents taught school and where her father was the school principal. Her parents were also active members of The Disciples of Christ, and, when Taggard was but two, they became missionaries and headed to Honolulu, Hawaii, to create and teach at a school there. The family left Hawaii in 1914, at which point Taggard enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, meanwhile joining the socialist political and literary community in the San Francisco Bay area.

Gertrude Stein

Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Gertrude Stein and her six siblings were left alone when her mother died in 1888 and her father died in 1891. Stein and her brother Leo moved to live with her mother's sister. Meanwhile, an older brother helped to secure an independent income for them. She then followed Leo to Harvard, studying at the Annex that would later become Radcliffe, and spent two years with him at Johns Hopkins studying medicine.

Wallace Stevens

Had Wallace Stevens not existed—a lifelong insurance executive writing some of his country's most insistently metaphysical poetry—it would hardly have been plausible to invent him. Yet Stevens had actually committed himself to writing poetry before taking a position with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company; the job was a way to earn a living. He was born and grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, and was educated at Harvard and at the New York University Law School. He began publishing poems in magazines in 1914, but his first book, Harmonium, did not appear until 1923.

Mark Strand

Born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, of American parents, Mark Strand moved regularly as a child whenever his salesman father was relocated. Strand was educated at Antioch College and at several universities—Yale, Florence, and Iowa. He has taught at Utah, Johns Hopkins, and in the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought, and served as poetry editor of The New Republic. In addition to his poetry, he has written a book on the painter Edward Hopper as well as short stories and books for children.

Ruth Stone

Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Ruth Stone grew up in Indiana and Illinois and was educated at the University of Illinois. Although she did not publish her first book until 1958 and withheld her next book until 1970, she nevertheless had a long and distinguished career. It was also, however, a career very much on the margins of the poetry establishment, about which "Some Things You'll Need to Know / Before You Join the Union" testifies with devastating wit.