William Bronk spent all his life in upstate New York in the small town of Hudson Falls; he lived in the family home, a Victorian house, and managed the business, a retail fuel and building supply firm that he inherited from his father, from 1945 until the mid-1970s. Bronk was born nearby in Fort Edward and educated at Dartmouth. He served as an army historian during World War II and wrote A History of the Eastern Defense Command and of the Defense of the Atlantic Coast of the United States in the Second World War (1945). A critical book, The Brother of Elysium (1980), includes essays on several nineteenth-century American writers. Bronk's work has had a paradoxical thematic consistency throughout his career: he concentrates on how we construct knowledge of the world and yet disrupts our confidence in those very mental operations. Sometimes the topical focus is very specific, as in his poems about music, or the poems below about the Mayan ruins, the subject as well of his essays in The New World (1974). At other times the topics are more abstractly epistemological or phenomenological, as in his poems about light. He avoided the poetry establishment for most of his life and was meanwhile one of relatively few poets with a stable income. His career was an exceptionally focused one, with a wry intensity that is uniquely his own.
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