Bly, Robert Elwood

Bly, Robert Elwood, 1926–2021, American writer, translator, editor, and publisher, b. Lac qui Parle County, Mn., Harvard (B.A., 1950), Univ. of Iowa (M.A., 1956). His poems, personal and precisely observant, are informed by the American landscape; a number also reflect his fierce opposition to the Vietnam War. Among his volumes of poetry are The Light Around the Body (1967; National Book Award), Sleepers Joining Hands (1972), The Man in the Black Coat Turns (1981), and Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (1985). His Collected Poems were published in 2018. As head of the Sixties Press he printed unconventional poetry and translations from lesser-known foreign poets. Beginning in the 1980s Bly was active in the “men's movement,” concerned with establishing a new idea of masculinity in contemporary society. In his best-selling nonfiction work Iron John (1990), Bly traces various passages from boyhood to manhood and urges men to explore their relations to their fathers and to discover their primitive masculinity. The Sibling Society (1996) and The Maiden King (1998, with M. Woodman) build on the social criticism of Iron John.

See studies by R. P. Sugg (1986), W. V. Davis (1989), T.R. Smith, ed., Robert Bly In This World (2011),M. Gustafson, Born Under the Sign of Odin: The Life & Times of Robert Bly's Little Magazine and Small Press (2021).

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