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Thom Gunn

Gunn, Thom (Thomson William Gunn), 1929–2004, Anglo-American poet, b. Gravesend, Kent, England, grad. Trinity College, Cambridge (1953). Gunn published his first volume of poems, the critically acclaimed Fighting Terms, in 1954. He moved to California in the mid-1950s, studied with Yvor Winters, and settled (1960) in San Francisco. Gunn is particularly known for addressing the rebellious and forbidden, and often chronicled his adopted city—its street life, drug culture, and gay scene. In later verse, he wrote of the deaths of friends as AIDS ravaged his city, and death became one of his greatest themes. Generally direct and unsentimental, he was equally skilled at traditional rhymed, free, and syllabic verse. His volumes include The Sense of Movement (1957), My Sad Captains (1961), Touch (1967), The Passages of Joy (1983), The Man with Night Sweats (1992), and Boss Cupid (2000). His essay are collected in The Occasions of Poetry (1982, repr. 1999) and Shelf Life (1993). He taught (1958–66; 1973–90) at the Univ. of California, Berkeley.

See his Collected Poems (1994); studies by A. Bold (1976), A. E. Dyson, ed. (1990), S. Michelucci (2009), and J. Weiner, ed. (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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