Robert Bly

b. 1926
Robert BlyDouglas Ryder

Since the 1960s, Robert Bly has written poetry that is nonacademic, based in the natural world, the visionary, and the realm of the irrational. As a poet, editor and translator, Bly has profoundly affected American verse, introducing many unknown European and South American poets to new readers. In addition to his poetic endeavors, he has gained attention for his theories on the roots of social problems, and his efforts to help men reclaim their masculinity and channel it in a positive direction. Bly’s poetry is often categorized as part of the deep image school of writing, in which the poet employs a system of private imagery; however, Bly’s wish is not to create a personal mythology, but rather to describe modern American life through powerful metaphors and intense imagery. Two of his major inspirations in this regard have been Spanish-language writers César Vallejo and Federico Garcia Lorca. Hugh Kenner, writing in the New York Times Book Review, remarked that “Bly is attempting to write down what it’s like to be alive, a state in which, he implies, not all readers find themselves all the time.”

Bly was born in western Minnesota and grew up in a community dominated by Norwegian immigrant farmers and their culture. After two years in the Navy, he attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota before transferring to Harvard where he associated with other graduates who went on to make their name as writers, including Donald Hall, Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, John Hawkes, George Plimpton, and Kenneth Koch. After his graduation in 1950, Bly spent some time in New York City before studying for two years at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, along with W. D. Snodgrass and Donald Justice. In 1956, he traveled on a Fulbright grant to Norway, where he translated Norwegian poetry into English. Translation helped shape the scope of Bly’s career. While in Norway, he discovered the work of many poets who would influence him greatly, including Neruda, Vallejo, and Gunnar Ekeloef. He founded his literary magazine and publishing house, The Fifties (which later changed its name to reflect the passing decades), as a forum for translated poetry. Returning to Minnesota, he took up residence on a farm with his wife, the short story writer Carol Bly, and their children.

Bly’s first widely acclaimed collection was Silence in the Snowy Fields (1962). In an author’s note, Bly stated that he is “interested in the connection between poetry and simplicity. . . . The fundamental world of poetry is an inward world. We approach it through solitude.” He added that the poems in this volume “move toward that world.” Writing for the New York Times Book Review, Wallace Fowlie said, Mr. Bly’s poems name delicate, humble things, and at the same time describe man assuming his existence, beginning over again the test of illusions. At the end of each poem there is silence, without complaint.”

Bly’s second book, The Light around the Body (1967), won the National Book Award. Unlike the meditative “deep images” of nature that had filled Silence in the Snowy Fields, The Light around the Body included poems attacking US involvement in the Vietnam War. The book showed Bly attempting to unite public and private realms in poetry, a project that would continue to influence both his own work and his role as a public poet. In 1966, Bly cofounded American Writers against the Vietnam War, led much of the opposition among writers to that war, and even contributed his National Book Award prize money to the antiwar effort. The 1970s were a prolific decade for him, in which he published eleven books of poetry, essays, and translations. In books such as Sleepers Joining Hands (1973) and This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years (1979), Bly returned to both the bucolic tradition of his first book and the antiwar themes that had marked his second, as well as celebrating the power of myth, Indian ecstatic poetry, meditation, and storytelling. He was strongly influenced by the work of Robert Graves, and his poetry showed his interest in mythology, Jungian psychology and pre-Christian religion. Bly’s most popular books from the 1980s include The Man in the Black Coat Turns (1981), which contains several prose poems and meditations on father-son relationships; Selected Poems (1986); and Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (1987), a volume that explores love, intimacy and relationships.

In 1979, Bly and Carol Bly divorced, an event which precipitated a serious crisis of the soul for the poet. His emotional journey eventually led him to begin, with James Hillman and Michael Meade, a series of seminars for men. Participants were encouraged to reclaim their male traits and to express their severely repressed feelings through poetry, stories, and other rites. Bly’s work in this area led to the character of “Iron John.” Based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, the figure came to stand for an archetype that could help men connect with their psyches and eventually became a book by the same name. In Iron John: A Book about Men (1990), Bly argues that modern men are greatly damaged by an absence of intergenerational male role models and initiation rituals. Some critics found Bly’s work to be anti-feminist; he replied by acknowledging and denouncing the dark side of male domination and exploitation. And while some continued to argue that Bly was advocating a return to traditional gender roles for both men and women, others assailed what they saw as Bly’s indiscriminate, New Age-influenced salad of tidbits from many traditions. But still others found great value in the book, stressing its importance to contemporary culture’s ongoing redefinition of sexuality. As Deborah Tannen put it in the Washington Post Book World, “This rewarding book is an invaluable contribution to the gathering public conversation about what it means to be male—or female.” Iron John was at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for ten weeks and stayed on the list for more than a year.

Bly continued his social criticism in The Sibling Society (1997). The book contends that Americans are like a race of perpetual adolescents, and as a result lack empathy or sympathy. The root of these problems, in Bly’s opinion, is both an erosion of respect for authority and a lack of cross-generational support. John Bemrose, reviewing The Sibling Society in Maclean’s, remarked that Bly “brings a unique ability to bear on the subject as an interpreter of folktales and great literature,” explaining the way “a constant bombardment of advertising keeps the hunger for new goods raging, and as corporations convince politicians that they must be allowed to do what they like (essentially taking over the leadership of society), people succumb to an infantile need for instant gratification.” The book was popularly praised.

Throughout his career, Bly has maintained his devotion to translating the world’s visionary poetry, often in an attempt to counteract what he has seen as the dry or lifeless qualities of high modernism.  In addition to the poets he introduced through his influential series of decade journals (The Fifties, Sixties and Seventies), Bly has translated poets as various as Rainer Maria Rilke, Antonio Machado, Tomas Tranströmer, Francis Ponge, Rumi, Hafez and the fifteenth-century Indian mystic Kabir. The Winged Energy of Delight: Selected Translations (2004) gathered together twenty two of the poets translated by Bly over his fifty-year career. In the Bloomsbury Review, Ray Gonzalez acknowledged the debt English language poetry owes Robert Bly, writing that Bly “has opened the doors of experience, insight, and language, lifting them toward a universal understanding of what poetry means in the lives of people throughout the world.”

Though Bly has perhaps become most identified as the founder of the men’s movement, he continues to publish poetry and translations. Imitating his friend William Stafford, Bly wrote a poem every morning, a collection which became Morning Poems (1998). The collection garnered much critical praise. Reviewing the book for the Times Literary Supplement, Ian Tromp maintained that “This book offers much that is touching and wise, and these poems seem a culmination of a journey away from the cant of so many of Bly’s earlier poems, a journey towards humility, simplicity and ease, culminating here in verse of unusual grace and humanity. The Morning Poems are the best Robert Bly has written.” His new and selected poems Eating the Honey of Words (1999) was also widely praised. Recent collections include The Urge to Travel Long Distances (2005) and the collection of ghazals My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy (2005)

Michiko Kakutani observed in the New York Times, “What has remained constant in his work . . . is Mr. Bly’s interest in man’s relationship with nature, and his commitment to an idiom built upon simplified diction and the free associative processes of the unconscious mind.” Peter Stitt of the New York Times Book Review also emphasized the importance of free association in Bly’s poetry. “Bly’s method,” Stitt wrote, “is free association; the imagination is allowed to discover whatever images it deems appropriate to the poem, no matter the logical, literal demands of consciousness.” M. L. Rosenberg, writing in Tribune Books, noted in Bly’s work a blending of European and South American influences with a decidedly American sensibility: “Bly is a genius of the elevated ‘high’ style, in the European tradition of Rilke and Yeats, the lush magical realism of the South Americans like Lorca and Neruda. Yet Bly’s work is truly American, taking its atmosphere of wide empty space from the Midwest, and its unabashed straightforward emotionalism and spiritualism.”

 

(Biography updated by the Poetry Foundation, 2009)

Career

Poet, translator, and editor. Fifties (became Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, then Nineties) Press, Moose Lake, MN, founder, publisher, and editor, 1958—. Conductor of writing workshops.

Bibliography

POEMS

  • (With William Duffy and James Wright), The Lion’s Tail and Eyes: Poems Written Out of Laziness and Silence, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1962.
  • Silence in the Snowy Fields, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1962.
  • (Compiler, with David Ray) A Poetry Reading against the Vietnam War, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1966.
  • The Light around the Body, Harper (New York, NY), 1967.
  • Chrysanthemums, Ox Head Press (Menomonie, WI), 1967.
  • Ducks, Ox Head Press (Menomonie, WI), 1968.
  • The Morning Glory: Another Thing That Will Never Be My Friend (twelve prose poems), Kayak Books (San Francisco, CA), 1969 , revised edition, 1970, complete edition, Harper (New York, NY), 1975.
  • The Teeth Mother Naked at Last, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1971.
  • (With William E. Stafford and William Matthews) Poems for Tennessee, Tennessee Poetry Press, 1971.
  • Christmas Eve Service at Midnight at St. Michael’s, Sceptre Press (Rushden, Northamptonshire, England), 1972.
  • Water under the Earth, Sceptre Press (Rushden, Northamptonshire, England), 1972.
  • The Dead Seal Near McClure’s Beach, Sceptre Press (Rushden, Northamptonshire, England), 1973.
  • Sleepers Joining Hands, Harper (New York, NY), 1973.
  • Jumping Out of Bed, Barre (Barre, MA), 1973.
  • The Hockey Poem, Knife River Press, 1974.
  • Point Reyes Poems, Mudra, 1974, new edition, Floating Island (Point Reyes Station, CA), 1989.
  • Old Man Rubbing His Eyes, Unicorn Press (Greensboro, NC), 1975.
  • The Loon, Ox Head Press (Marshall, MN), 1977.
  • This Body Is Made of Camphor and Gopherwood (prose poems), Harper (New York, NY), 1977.
  • Visiting Emily Dickinson’s Grave and Other Poems, Red Ozier Press (Madison, WI), 1979.
  • This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years, Harper (New York, NY), 1979.
  • The Man in the Black Coat Turns, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.
  • Finding an Old Ant Mansion, Martin Booth (Knotting, Bedford, England), 1981.
  • Four Ramages, Barnwood Press, 1983.
  • The Whole Moisty Night, Red Ozier Press (Madison, WI), 1983.
  • Out of the Rolling Ocean, Dial Press (New York, NY), 1984.
  • Mirabai Versions, Red Ozier Press (Madison, WI), 1984.
  • In the Month of May, Red Ozier Press (Madison, WI), 1985.
  • A Love of Minute Particulars, Sceptre Press (Rushden, Northamptonshire, England), 1985.
  • Selected Poems, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.
  • Loving a Woman in Two Worlds, Perennial/Harper (New York, NY), 1987.
  • The Moon on a Fencepost, Unicorn Press, 1988.
  • The Apple Found in the Plowing, Haw River Books, 1989.
  • Angels of Pompeii, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.
  • What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?: Collected Prose Poems, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
  • Gratitude to Old Teachers, BOA Editions (Brockport, NY), 1993.
  • Meditations on the Insatiable Soul: Poems, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1994.
  • Morning Poems, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.
  • Holes the Crickets Have Eaten in Blankets: A Sequence of Poems (Boa Pamphlets, No 9), Boa Editions (Rochester, NY), 1997.
  • Snowbanks North of the House, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
  • Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
  • The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
  • My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
  • The Urge to Travel Long Distances, (Eastern Washington University Press, Spokane, WA), 2005.
  • Turkish Pears in August: Twenty-Four Ramages, (Eastern Washington University Press, Spokane, WA), 2007.

EDITOR

  • The Sea and the Honeycomb, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1966.
  • (With David Ray) A Poetry Reading against the Vietnam War, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1967.
  • Forty Poems Touching Upon Recent History, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1970.
  • News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness, Sierra Books (San Francisco, CA), 1980.
  • Ten Love Poems, Ally Press (St. Paul, MN), 1981.
  • (With William Duffy) The Fifties and the Sixties (ten volumes), Hobart and William Smith, 1982.
  • The Winged Life: The Poetic Voice of Henry David Thoreau, Yolla Bolly Press (Covelo, CA), 1986.
  • (With James Hillman and Michael Meade) The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
  • Leaping Poetry, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1975.
  • David Ignatow, Selected Poems, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1975.
  • Selected from Twentieth-Century American Poetry: An Anthology, New Readers Press, 1991.
  • William Stafford, The Darkness around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1993.
  • (With Roy U. Schenk, John Everingham, and Gershen Kaufman), Men Healing Shame: An Anthology, Springer Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.
  • The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures, Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1995.
  • Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems, HarperFlamingo (New York, NY), 1999.
  • The Best American Poetry 1999, Scribner (New York, NY), 1999.

TRANSLATOR

  • Hans Hvass, Reptiles and Amphibians of the World, Grosset (New York, NY), 1960.
  • (With James Wright) Georg Trakl, Twenty Poems, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1961.
  • Selma Lager, The Story of Gosta Berling, New American Library (New York, NY), 1962.
  • (With James Knoefle and James Wright) César Vallejo, Twenty Poems, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1962.
  • Knut Hamsun, Hunger (novel), Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1967.
  • (With Christina Paulston) Gunnar Ekeloef, I Do Best Alone at Night, Charioteer Press (Washington, DC), 1967.
  • (With Christina Paulston) Gunnar Ekeloef, Late Arrival on Earth: Selected Poems, Rapp & Carroll (London, England), 1967.
  • Wang Hui-ming, Woodcut (limited edition), Epoh Studio (Amherst, MA), 1968.
  • (With James Wright) Pablo Neruda, Twenty Poems, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1968.
  • (With others) Yvan Goll, Selected Poems, Kayak, 1968.
  • Issa Kobayashi, Ten Poems, privately printed, 1969.
  • (And editor) Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo, Selected Poems, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1971.
  • Kabir, The Fish in the Sea Is Not Thirsty: Versions of Kabir, Lillabulero Press (Northwood Narrows, NH), 1971.
  • Tomas Tranströmer, Night Vision, Lillabulero Press (Northwood Narrows, NH), 1971.
  • Tomas Tranströmer, Twenty Poems, Seventies Press (Madison, MN), 1972.
  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Ten Sonnets to Orpheus, Zephyrus Image (San Francisco, CA), 1972.
  • Basho, Basho, Mudra, 1972.
  • Tomas Tranströmer, Elegy; Some October Notes (limited edition), Sceptre Press (Rushden, Northamptonshire, England), 1973.
  • Federico Garcia Lorca and Juan Ramon Jimenez, Selected Poems, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1973.
  • Friends, You Drank Some Darkness: Three Swedish Poets—Martinson, Ekeloef, and Tranströmer, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1975.
  • Kabir, Grass from Two Years, Ally Press (Denver, CO), 1975.
  • Kabir, Twenty-eight Poems, Siddha Yoga Dham, 1975.
  • Kabir, Try to Live to See This!, Ally Press (Denver, CO), 1976.
  • Rainer Maria Rilke, The Voices, Ally Press (Denver, CO), 1977.
  • Kabir, The Kabir Book: Forty-four of the Ecstatic Poems of Kabir, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1977.
  • Rolf Jacobsen, Twenty Poems of Rolf Jacobsen, Eighties Press (Madison, MN), 1977.
  • Antonio Machado, I Never Wanted Fame, Ally Press (St. Paul, MN), 1979.
  • Antonio Machado, Canciones, Toothpaste Press (West Branch, IA), 1980.
  • Tomas Tranströmer, Truth Barriers, Sierra Books (San Francisco, CA), 1980.
  • Rainer Maria Rilke, I Am Too Alone in the World: Ten Poems, Silver Hands Press (New York, NY), 1980.
  • (And editor) Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke: A Translation from the German, and Commentary, Harper (New York, NY), 1981.
  • Rumi, Jalal alDin, Night and Sleep, Yellow Moon Press (Cambridge, MA), 1981.
  • Goran Sonnevi, The Economy Spinning Faster and Faster, SUN, 1982.
  • Antonio Machado, Times Alone: Selected Poems, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1983.
  • Windows That Open Inward: Images of Chile, photographs by Milton Rogovin, poems by Pablo Neruda, edited by Dennis Maloney, introduction by Pablo Neruda, White Pine Press (Buffalo, NY), 1985.
  • Rumi, Jalal al-Din, When Grapes Turn to Wine, Yellow Moon Press (Cambridge, MA), 1986.
  • Olav H. Hauge, Trusting Your Life to Water and Eternity, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 1987.
  • Ten Poems of Francis Ponge, and Ten Poems of Robert Bly Inspired by the Poems of Francis Ponge, Owl’s Head Press (Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada), 1990.
  • Lorca and Jimenez: Selected Poems, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1997.
  • (With Sunil Dutta) Ghalib, The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib: Selected Poems of Ghalib, Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1999.
  • (With Roger Greenwald and Robert Hedin) The Roads Have Come to an End Now: Selected and Last Poems of Rolf Jacobsen, Copper Canyon Press (Port Townsend, WA), 2001.
  • Tomas Tranströmer, The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer, Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2001.
  • Tomas Tranströmer, Air Mail: Brev 1964-1990, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 2001.
  • Kabir, Kabir: Ecstatic Poems, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2004.
  • The Winged Energy of Delight, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Also translator of such volumes as Forty Poems of Juan Ramon Jimenez, 1967, and, with Lewis Hyde, Twenty Poems of Vincente Alexandre, 1977.

OTHER

  • A Broadsheet against the New York Times Book Review, Sixties Press (Madison, MN), 1961.
  • (Contributor) Ten Songs for Low Man’s Voice and Piano, Mobart (Hillsdale, NY), 1978.
  • What the Fox Agreed to Do: Four Poems, Croissant (Athens, OH), 1979.
  • Talking All Morning: Collected Conversations and Interviews, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1980.
  • The Eight Stages of Translation, Rowan Tree (Boston, MA), 1983, 2nd edition, 1986.
  • The Pillow and the Key: Commentary on the Fairy Tale “Iron John,” Ally Press (St. Paul, MN), 1987.
  • A Little Book on the Human Shadow, edited by William Booth, Harper (New York, NY), 1988.
  • American Poetry: Wildness and Domesticity, Harper (New York, NY), 1990.
  • Iron John: A Book about Men, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1990.
  • Remembering James Wright, Ally Press (St. Paul, MN), 1991.
  • (With Jacob Boehme) Between Two Worlds, music by John Harbison, G. Schirmer (New York, NY), 1991.
  • The Spirit Boy and the Insatiable Soul, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
  • The Sibling Society, Addison-Wesley Publishers (Reading, MA), 1996.
  • (With Marion Woodman) The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1998.

Further Reading

BOOKS

  • Bly, Robert, Silence in the Snowy Fields, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1962.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 5, 1976, Volume 10, 1979, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 38, 1986.
  • Contemporary Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
  • Daniels, Kate and Richard Jones, editors, On Solitude and Silence: Writings on Robert Bly, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1982, pp. 146-152.
  • Davis, William V., Understanding Robert Bly, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1989.
  • Davis, William Virgil, Robert Bly: The Poet and His Critics, Camden House (Columbia, SC), 1994.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1980.
  • Friberg, Ingegard, Moving Inward: A Study of Robert Bly's Poetry, Acta University Gothoburgensis, 1977.
  • Heep, Hartmut, A Different Poem: Rainer Maria Rilke's American Translators Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, and Robert Bly, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Howard, Richard, Alone with America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States since 1950, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1969, revised edition, 1980.
  • Lacey, Paul A., The Inner War: Forms and Themes in Recent American Poetry, Fortress Press, 1972.
  • Lensing, George S., and Ronald Moran, Four Poets and the Emotive Imagination: Robert Bly, James Wright, Louis Simpson, and William Stafford, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1976.
  • Malkoff, Karl, Escape from the Self: A Study in Contemporary American Poetry and Poetics, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1977.
  • Mersmann, James F., Out of the Vietnam Vortex: A Study of Poets and Poetry against the War, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1974, pp. 113-157.
  • Molesworth, Charles, The Fierce Embrace: A Study of Contemporary American Poetry, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1979.
  • Nelson, Howard, Robert Bly: An Introduction to the Poetry, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1984.
  • Newsmakers 1992, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
  • Ossman, David, The Sullen Art, Corinth, 1963.
  • Peseroff, Joyce, editor, Robert Bly: When Sleepers Awake, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1984.
  • Poems for Young Readers, National Council of Teachers of English, for the Houston Festival of Contemporary Poetry, 1966.
  • Roberson, William H., Robert Bly: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography, Scarecrow (Lanham, MD), 1986.
  • St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
  • Shaw, Robert B., editor, American Poetry since 1960: Some Critical Perspectives, Dufour, 1974, pp. 55-67.
  • Smith, Thomas R., editor, Walking Swiftly: Writings and Images on the Occasion of Robert Bly's 65th Birthday, Ally Press (St. Paul, MN), 1992.
  • Stepanchev, Stephen, American Poetry Since 1945: A Critical Survey, Harper (New York, NY), 1965, pp. 185-187.
  • Sugg, Richard P., Robert Bly, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1986.

PERIODICALS

  • America, September 28, 1996, William J. O'Malley, review of The Sibling Society, p. 34.
  • American Dialog, winter, 1968-69.
  • Antioch Review, summer, 2002, John Taylor, review of The Roads Have Come to an End Now, p. 535.
  • Book, January-February, 2002, Stephen Whited, review of The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, p. 70.
  • Booklist, October 15, 1994, Ray Olson, review of Meditations on the Insatiable Soul, p. 395; April 1, 1996, Ray Olson, review of The Sibling Society, p. 1322; May 1, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems, p. 1573.
  • Boundary 2, spring, 1976, pp. 677-700, 707-725.
  • Carleton Miscellany, Volume XVIII, number 1, 1979-80, pp. 74-84.
  • Chicago Review, Volume 19, number 2, 1967.
  • Chicago Tribune Book World, May 3, 1981; February 28, 1982, p. 2.
  • Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 1963.
  • Commonweal, July 23, 1971, pp. 375-380.
  • Detroit News, December 5, 1990, p. 3D.
  • English Studies, April, 1970, pp. 112-137.
  • Explicator, fall, 1999, Tom Hansen, review of Surprised by Evening, p. 53.
  • Far Point, fall-winter, 1969, pp. 42-47.
  • Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 4, 1987; December 8, 1990, p. C10.
  • Harper's Magazine, August, 1968, pp. 73-77; January, 1980, p. 79.
  • Hollins Critic, April, 1975, pp. 1-15.
  • Hudson Review, autumn, 1968, p. 553; spring, 1976; spring, 1978; summer, 1987.
  • Iowa Review, summer, 1972, pp. 78-91; spring, 1973, pp. 111-126; fall, 1976, pp. 135-153.
  • Lamp in the Spine, number 3, 1972.
  • Library Journal, October 15, 1994, p. 62; July, 1996, Terry McMaster, review of The Sibling Society, p. 140; June 1, 1997, Fred Muratori, review of Morning Poems, p. 103; October 1, 1998, Mary Ann Hughes, review of The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine, p. 118; June 1, 1999, Frank Allen, review of Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems, p. 118.
  • Listener, June 27, 1968.
  • London, December, 1968.
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 18, 1980, p. 9; December 29, 1985, p. 11; October 26, 1986, p. 4; November 30, 1986, p. 11; December 2, 1990.
  • Maclean's, July 22, 1996, John Bemrose, review of The Sibling Society, p. 61.
  • Michigan Quarterly Review, spring, 1981, pp. 144-154.
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, January, 1994, p. 38.
  • Modern Language Quarterly, March, 2001, Margaret Bruzelius, "The Kind of England . . . Loved to Look upon a Man," p. 19.
  • Modern Poetry Studies, winter, 1976, pp. 231-240.
  • Moons and Lion Tailes, Volume II, number 3, 1977, pp. 85-89.
  • Nation, March 25, 1968, pp. 413-414; November 17, 1979, pp. 503-504; October 31, 1981, pp. 447-448; November 26, 2001, Ian Tromp, review of Stargazing and Sufi Poetics, p. 54, review of The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, p. 54.
  • National Catholic Reporter, February 7, 1997, Andres Rodriguez, review of The Sibling Society, p. 23.
  • National Review, May 20, 1996, Florence King, review of The Sibling Society, p. 66.
  • New Republic, November 14, 1970, pp. 26-27; January 3, 1994, p. 31A; September 16, 1996, David Bromwich, review of The Sibling Society, p. 31.
  • New Statesman, November 15, 1996, Kirsty Milne, review of The Sibling Society, p. 47.
  • Newsweek, November 26, 1990, pp. 66-68.
  • New York Review of Books, June 20, 1968; November 28, 1996, Diane Johnson, review of The Sibling Society, p. 22.
  • New York Times, May 3, 1986; May 16, 1996.
  • New York Times Book Review, September 7, 1975; January 1, 1978; March 9, 1980, p. 8; April 26, 1981; February 14, 1982, p. 15; January 22, 1984, p. 1; October 13, 1985, p. 15; May 25, 1986, p. 2; February 22, 1987, p. 34; September 30, 1990, p. 29; December 9, 1990, p. 15; May 29, 1994, Richard Tillinghast, review of The Darkness around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford, p. 10; December 31, 1995, Bruno Maddox, review of The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures, p. 8; October 11, 1998, Karen Lehrman, review of The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine, p. 11; November 18, 2001, Noah Isenberg, review of The Half-Finished Heaven, p. 68.
  • New York Times Magazine, February 3, 1980, p. 16.
  • Ohio Review, fall, 1978.
  • Partisan Review, Volume XLIV, number 2, 1977.
  • Poetry, June, 1963; March, 1996, Ben Howard, review of Meditations on the Insatiable Soul, p. 346; April, 2002, John Taylor, review of The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, p. 45.
  • Prairie Schooner, summer, 1968, pp. 176-178.
  • Publishers Weekly, May 9, 1980, pp. 10-11; October 12, 1990; March 25, 1996, review of The Sibling Society, p. 70; September 14, 1998, review of The Maiden King, p. 61; March 29, 1999, review of Eating the Honey of Words, p. 97; July 26, 1999, review of The Best American Poetry 1999, p. 84; April 23, 2001, review of The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, p. 73.
  • Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, number 29, 1975, pp. 95-117.
  • San Francisco Review of Books, July-August, 1983, pp. 22-23.
  • Schist I, fall, 1973.
  • Sewanee Review, spring, 1974.
  • Shenandoah, spring, 1968, p. 70.
  • Star Tribune, December 2, 2001, John Habich, Weird Elation, p. E1.
  • Texas Quarterly, number 19, 1976, pp. 80-94.
  • Times Literary Supplement, March 16, 1967; February 20, 1981, p. 208.
  • Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 12, 1987, p. 5.
  • TWA Ambassador, December, 1980.
  • U.S. News & World Report, June 24, 1996, John Leo, review of The Sibling Society, p. 24.
  • Utne Reader, May-June, 1996, interview with Robert Bly, p. 58.
  • Virginia Quarterly Review, winter, 1963.
  • Washington Post, October 23, 1980; February 3, 1991, p. F1.
  • Washington Post Book World, April 1, 1973, p. 13; January 5, 1986, p. 6; December 14, 1986, p. 9; November 18, 1990, p. 1.
  • Western American Literature, spring, 1982, pp. 66-68; fall, 1982, pp. 282-284.
  • Win, January 15, 1973.
  • Windless Orchard, number 18, 1974, pp. 30-34.
  • World Literature Today, autumn, 1981, p. 680; spring, 1994, Ashley Brown, review of Gratitude to Old Teachers, p. 378; winter, 2000, Michael Leddy, review of The Best American Poetry, 1999, p. 172.

ONLINE

  • Menweb, http://www.menweb.org/ (July 5, 2003), Bert H. Hoff, interview with Robert Bly.
  • PBS Web site, http://www.pbs.org/ (July 5, 2003), "No Safe Place: Violence against Women" (interview with Robert Bly).
  • Robert Bly Home Page, http://www.robertbly.com/ (July 5, 2003), Frances Quinn, interview with Robert Bly.

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Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

LIFE SPAN 1926–

Robert Bly

Biography

Since the 1960s, Robert Bly has written poetry that is nonacademic, based in the natural world, the visionary, and the realm of the irrational. As a poet, editor and translator, Bly has profoundly affected American verse, introducing many unknown European and South American poets to new readers. In addition to his poetic endeavors, he has gained attention for his theories on the roots of social problems, and his efforts to help . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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