Donald Justice was born in Miami and educated at Miami University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Iowa. He taught for a number of years first at Iowa and then at the University of Florida. Several important contemporary poets—including Jorie Graham, Mark Strand, and Charles Wright—were among his students. His career began with witty and technically exquisite poems like “The Wall” and “An Old Fashioned Devil,” then moved to a reflection on his own work in “Early Poems,” and finally moved to the more open and meditative style of “Absences” and “Presences.”
Frost was born and spent his first eleven years in San Francisco. At that point, his father, a journalist, died and the family moved to New England. Frost was educated at Dartmouth and Harvard and for a time made an effort to run a poultry farm in New Hampshire. But in 1912 he went to England, where he published his first book, A Boy's Will, the following year. With Ezra Pound's help, he was able to publish his next volume in the United States, after which he returned and made another New Hampshire farm his home, supporting himself by regular college teaching.
Louise Bogan was born in Livermore Falls, Maine. Her parents, of Irish descent, travelled across New England in search of work and endured a tempestuous marriage. One of Bogan's brothers was killed in the First World War, while another died of alcoholism in his early 30s. Bogan attended Boston University for a year. After a brief, failed marriage, she settled in New York's Greenwich Village, became part of its vital literary life, and began publishing her intense but highly formal poetry in little magazines.
There is no other poet in our history quite like Harry Crosby. He is above all else a poet of one unforgiving obsession: the image of the sun and every variation he can ring on it in poems of ecstatic incantation. Poems like "Pharmacie Du Soleil" should be read aloud, preferably by a score of people speaking either in unison or in counterpoint. Born Henry Sturgis Crosby into an upper class Boston family, his education at privileged Boston schools gives little anticipation of the iconoclastic Paris expatriate of the 1920s. But World War I changed him.
Born in Sacramento, California, William Everson was the son of a Norwegian composer. He attended Fresno State College until leaving in 1935 to write poetry. Robinson Jeffers was one of his strongest literary influences at the time. He was a conscientious objector during World War II, working as a forester in Oregon for three years, and soon afterwards joined the San Francisco anarcho-pacifist group centered around poet Kenneth Rexroth. In 1949, Everson converted to Roman Catholicism, wrote “The Making of the Cross,” and the following year he joined the Catholic Worker Movement.
Born Florence Anthony in Albany, Texas, Ai did not learn her real father's identity until she was sixteen. Then she learned she had a Japanese American father; her mother was black, Irish, and Choctaw Indian. She took the name "Ai," which means "love" in Japanese, to signal her heritage. Ai's childhood was spent in a variety of cities, including Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She was educated at the University of Arizona and the University of California at Irvine.
Born in Galesburg, Illinois, and educated at Lombard College, Carl Sandburg for many years was drawn both to America's most radical union, the Industrial Workers of the World, and also to international socialism. The great poems of his first volume, Chicago Poems (1914), and of the next several years, some of them uncollected or unpublished, reflect his deep commitment to working people and his strong left politics, including his initial opposition to U.S. involvement in World War I and his interest in African American culture.
Born in Kirkwood, Missouri, and raised in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Moore was educated at Bryn Mawr College and Carlisle Commercial College. She shared a house with her mother all her life, much of it working on a series of jobs in the New York area, but always focusing on writing. Notably, her use of quotation in her poems is as elaborate as that of T.S. Eliot, but to quite different purposes. If Eliot aimed for magisterial allusiveness, Moore aimed for something more complex and subversive—to model the cultural constitution of knowledge and understanding.
Charles Edward Anson Markham was born in Oregon City, in the Oregon Territory, but his mother took him to a farm at Suisun, California, in 1856. The farm was halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco; Markham lived in California, where he became a schoolteacher, until moving to New York's Staten Island at the turn of the century and publishing a number of volumes of poetry thereafter.
Carl Sadakichi Hartmann was born on an island in Nagasaki Harbor in Japan, of a Japanese mother and German father. His father sent him to the U. S. in 1882, and he was naturalized in 1894. His Conversations with Walt Whitman (1895) apparently grows out of meetings they had late in Whitman's life. Hartmann wrote a number of verse and prose plays as well as numerous poems that helped shape the imagist movement.