Poetry News

Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Louis Simpson Dies at 89

By Harriet Staff

We are saddened to learn that Louis Simpson is dead at 89. Simpson, who had several poems published in Poetry magazine, is remembered by The New York Times as "poet who told characteristically American tales of common people and often cast a skeptical eye on the American dream." The obituary continues:

“I did not intend to be a poet,” [Simpson] wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1965. “I wanted to tell stories.” Writing, he said, “came as naturally as playing games.”

...Mr. Simpson had a separate career as a critic. His best-known work was “Three on the Tower” (1975), a critically acclaimed study of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams.

He aimed to be as succinct in his criticism as he was in his poetry. Reviewing his “Selected Prose” in 1989, the poet Anne Stevenson wrote: “He dislikes woolly theorizing and evinces a healthy distrust of verbiage spun out of important-sounding abstractions. In a climate of criticism too much given over to theories and isms, his lean, accurate prose should be honored and made welcome.”

He himself once suggested that “descriptions of poetry written by men who are not poets are usually ridiculous, for they describe rational thought processes.”

Find the full obituary here.

Originally Published: September 18th, 2012