Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Richard Wilbur was educated at Amherst College and Harvard. He served as a cryptographer during World War II and was stationed in Africa, France, and Italy. Since then he has taught regularly, done successful translations of Molière, coauthored an operetta (Candide, 1957) with Lillian Hellman, and written two books of children's poetry. Taking the English metaphysical poets as his models in his own work, Wilbur has excelled at polished, witty, self-contained lyrics with formal stanzas and controlled metrics.
Born to a Boston Brahmin family, John Wheelright's father was an architect who designed a number of the city's well-known buildings. After his father's suicide in 1912, Wheelwright underwent a religious conversion, abandoning his family's historic Unitarianism and becoming an Anglican. At Harvard from 1916-20, however, he became uneasy with his new commitment and joined the circle of Aesthetes, among them E.E. Cummings and Malcolm Cowley. Attracted to socialism, he remained at once emotionally connected to Christian myth and reluctant to embrace the uneducated masses.
Born in Guthrie, Kentucky, Robert Penn Warren was educated at Vanderbilt University, the University of California at Berkeley, Yale University, and Oxford University. At Vanderbilt he was associated with the literary group called the Fugitives, which evolved into the Agrarian movement. The Agrarians advocated traditional values and an agricultural economy as a way of opposing industrialization and its accompanying alienation. At the time, Warren also wrote in support of racial segregation, a position he later came to regret.
Born in New York City, raised on Long Island, and educated at Boston University, Paul Violi worked as managing editor of Architectural Forum, on various special projects for Universal Limited Art Edition, and taught at several colleges, including New York University. He published eight books of poetry since the 1970s. "Index" is not the only poem of his that textualizes apparently innocent linguistic contexts. "Errata" achieves similar results with an invented errata page. "Marina" makes a socially unstable poem out of real or imagined boats' names.
Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Mona Van Duyn was educated at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa. Typically a formalist poet, she often worked in long lines with varied meters. Sometimes taking up philosophical topics, she wrote about the commonplace events of ordinary life, as with "Toward a Definition of Marriage." She taught at Washington University.
Lucia Trent's third book of poems, Children of Fire and Shadow (1929), a collection whose often witty radicalism anticipates some of the poetry of the next decade, is her most notable. She is also known for a number of editing projects, including the magazine Contemporary Verse and some ten books, on many of which she collaborated with her husband, Ralph Cheyney. The most historically important of these may be America Arraigned (1928), a collection of poems about the Sacco and Vanzetti case.
Born Nathan Pinchback Jean Toomer in Washington, D.C., Toomer from the age of five was raised by his mother, until her death in 1909, and her father, P.B.S. Pinchback, lieutenant governor of Louisiana during Reconstruction when blacks had political power in the South. By 1919, he had enrolled and left several schools, including the Universities of Wisconsin and Chicago, New York University, and the American College of Physical Training.
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 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.
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.