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.

James Merrill

Born and raised in New York City, James Merrill was the child of a founder of America's most famous brokerage firm. He was educated at Amherst College, a stay interrupted by a year's service in the U.S. infantry at the end of World War II. Thereafter he divided his time between Connecticut, Florida, and Greece and devoted himself to a highly successful literary career. His poetry is poised, self-conscious, elegant, and witty; its manner owes perhaps as much to the stylistic polish of Proust's and James's fiction as to other poets.

Amy Lowell

Lowell was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, of a family long influential in New England commerce, history, and culture. Her ancestors founded Lowell, Massachusetts; George Washington had appointed one a judge; others founded the Lowell textile mills. But the family lineage also included scholars and educators and the poet James Russell Lowell. Largely self-educated and more than slightly self-assured, she turned to writing poetry seriously in her thirties, publishing her first book in 1912.

Langston Hughes

For several decades Langston Hughes was simultaneously the foremost African American poet and the premier poet of the American Left. Without understanding that double identity and dual cultural role, there is little chance of winning a full or fair appreciation of his life and work. Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, but grew up mainly in Lawrence, Kansas. Before enrolling at the historically black Lincoln University, he had worked at numerous menial jobs but also seen Africa, Mexico, and Paris. He would later make trips to the Soviet Union and to Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

Judy Grahn

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.