McClatchy, J. D.

McClatchy, J. D. (Joseph Donald McClatchy, Jr.), 1945–2018, American poet, b. Bryn Mawr, Pa., B.A. Georgetown Univ., 1967, Ph.D. Yale, 1974. His first collection of poems, Scenes from Another Life (1981), was followed by seven more, including Hazmat (2002), Mercury Dressing (2009), and his last, Plundered Hearts (2014). At once philosophical, often concerned with ancient historical themes, and sensual, his verse is complex, erudite, and lyrical. Cool and elegant, it focuses recurringly on the body's cravings, especially erotic love between men, and, toward the end of his life, the body's role as “a petulant tyrant.” McClatchy turned to writing opera libretti in 1987, with William Schuman's A Question of Taste, and wrote about a dozen popular libretti in all. Among his critical essays, those in Anne Sexton: The Artist and Her Critics (1978) are the most acclaimed. He also was a talented translator, a sympathetic editor of poetry, e.g., poetry by his friend and mentor James Merrill, and a prolific anthologist. He taught at several universities before returning to Yale, where he was an adjunct professor and edited (1991–2017) the Yale Review.

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