Born in New York City and raised on Long Island, Louise Glück was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia. She lives in Plainfield, Vermont, but has taught at a number of schools, including Columbia University and Williams College. Glück's 1994 volume of essays, Proofs and Theories, includes remarks on the autobiographical overtones of a number of her early poems, which were often dark portraits of family and childhood.
Born in Beatrice, Nebraska, Weldon Kees graduated from the University of Nebraska. After an editorial job with the Federal Writers' Project in Lincoln, he moved to Denver to direct its bibliographic center. A few years later, he left for New York, where he earned a living for a while writing for Time magazine, until he moved to San Francisco in 1951. He also became a committed Trotskyite, the Marxist group cast out of the official Communist Party. Kees was not only a poet—one often cynical about American middle class values—but also a painter, a pianist, and a jazz composer.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Randall Jarrell was educated at Vanderbilt University and taught at a number of colleges and universities, meanwhile acquiring a reputation as a devastatingly witty reviewer of other people's poetry. After enlisting in the Army Air Force in 1942, he was assigned to an aviation facility in Tucson, Arizona, where he became a celestial training navigator.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Robinson Jeffers's father was a minister and a professor of biblical literature. The family moved to northern California in 1903, before the area was fully settled. Jeffers himself was educated at Occidental College in Los Angeles. His initial interests were in medicine and forestry, which he studied, respectively, at the University of Southern California and at the University of Washington.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Galway Kinnell was educated at Princeton and the University of Rochester. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1945-1946 and then went on to do civil rights field work in Louisiana for the Congress on Racial Equality.
Joseph Kalar was born in Merritt, Minnesota, the second son in a family that would eventually comprise nine boys and a girl who died as an infant. The family lived for a time in a tarpaper shack in a mining village. Kalar completed the training program at Bemidji Teachers College and then taught for a year in the remote town of Wayland. Feeling restless and isolated, from 1928-1930 he travelled across the country taking odd jobs and reporting to the radical journal New Masses on conditions everywhere he went.
Robert Lowell grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of a family with a distinguished literary heritage. Poets James Russell Lowell and Amy Lowell were among his ancestors. This heritage no doubt made his own father's limitations—he was a business failure after his retirement from the U.S. Navy—seem more severe. Lowell enrolled at Harvard, much as the family expected, but after the first of his lifelong series of emotional breakdowns and periods of manic behavior, he transferred to Kenyon College in 1937.
Born in New York City and educated at Bard College and Columbia, Hecht served in Europe and Japan in the U.S. army. He taught for a number of years at the University of Rochester and Georgetown University. Hecht wrote several books of criticism, including a study of W.H. Auden, and translated both classical and contemporary writers. Often learned and witty in his poetry, he has occasionally taken up more difficult subjects, as with the Holocaust poems "More Light!
Born and raised in Chicago until her parents, a cook and a photographer's assistant, moved to New Mexico, Judy Grahn graduated from San Francisco State University and remained in the Bay Area thereafter. Early on she worked as a waitress, a short-order cook, a barmaid, an artist's model, a typesetter, and a nurse's aide. A serious illness placed her in a coma, but she recovered.