Jack Gilbert (1925-2012) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was educated in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, where he later participated in Jack Spicer's famous 'Poetry as Magic' Workshop at San Francisco State College in 1957. Initially associated with the Beats, he left America after winning the Yale Younger Poets Prize with Views of Jeopardy in 1962, eking out a living for many years on Greek islands, most notably Paros. His second collection, Monolithos, appeared twenty years later in 1982, winning him the Stanley Kunitz Prize and the American Poetry Review Prize, but he made his strongest impression on American readers with two later collections, The Great Fires (1994) and Refusing Heaven (2005), winner of the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. His final collection, The Dance Most of All (2009), was followed by his Collected Poems from Knopf in 2012. Monolithos (1982) and Refusing Heaven (2005) were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and Refusing Heaven was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His other honours included a Lannan Literary Award and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His only UK edition, Transgressions: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2006), covers his collections from Views of Jeopardy to Refusing Heaven. Gilbert was the 1999-2000 Grace Hazard Conkling writer-in-residence at Smith College and a visiting professor and writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee in 2004.
'He takes himself away to a place more inward than is safe to go; from that awful silence and tightening, he returns to us poems of savage compassion...Gilbert is the rarest of beings: a necessary poet' - James Dickey 'Poetry of constantly surprising beauty and directness. Jack Gilbert resides with the modernist giants of the early century because, among other reasons, he is not intimidated by them' - Frank Lentricchia 'The rigor of Gilbert's purpose is matched by the economy of his means...Serious and unflinching, Gilbert is the rare poet who manages to come at the Romantic most effectively from an unrelentingly classical base' - Allen Hoey, American Poetry Review