In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to some of the greatest poets in our literature. John Berryman (1914-72) was a poet from an immensely gifted generation of American poets that included Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell and Elizabeth Bishop. His long sequence The Dream Songs has become an enduring landmark in American poetry and a tribute to Berryman's own endurance in the face of alcoholism, depression and mental instability. In 1972 he leaped to his death from a bridge above the Mississippi River.
John Berryman (1914-72) was born John Smith in McAlester, Oklahoma, and educated at Colombia College and Cambridge University. He later held posts at Harvard and Princeton, before taking up a professorship at the University of Minnesota. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965 for 77 Dream Songs, and he continued to build upon this series of poems, publishing the end result, The Dream Songs, in 1969. His Collected Poems was published after his death in 1991. Michael Hofmann was born in 1957 in Freiburg, Germany, and came to England in 1961. He has published four volumes of poems and won a Cholmondeley Award and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for poetry. His translations have won many awards, including the Independent's Foreign Fiction Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the P.E.N./Book of the Month Club Translation Prize. His reviews and criticism are gathered in Behind the Lines (2001). Ashes for Breakfast - his translations of the poetry of Durs Grunbein - appeared in 2005, and his Selected Poems was published in 2008.
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