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Collected poems

Collected poems

Author: Gunn, Thom,

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, c1994

ISBN: 0374126216 :

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Both literally and figuratively, Thom Gunn may have traveled the farthest of any of the original Movement poets of the 1950s in Britain. Born in Gravesend, he moved often as a child because his journalist father frequently worked for different newspapers. After two years in the British army and some months in Paris, he enrolled in Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1953. He then went to the United States for graduate study at Stanford University and an assistant professorship from 1958 to 1966 at the University of California, Berkeley. Gunn's literal journeys mirror psychological ones reflected in his poetry. Influenced by French existentialist thought, he first came to public attention as a skilled craftsman of anguished lyrics in traditional forms. Moving to California, he experimented with the drug LSD and a looser artistic structure, which he used to present often violent subjects (such as motorcycle gangs). Correspondingly, Gunn's erotic verse changed from the early heterosexual lyrics to a frank portrayal of homosexual love. Although he claims to be an atheist, Gunn often conveys a passionate, nearly mystical, identification with the world of nature. The title poem of his important volume Moly (1971) shows his understandable fascination with the theme of metamorphosis. Thom Gunn, born in 1929, has received many awards, most recently a Lila Acheson Wallace/"Reader's Digest" Fellowship & a MacArthur Fellowship. His works include "The Man with Night Sweats" (FSG, 1992) & "Collected Poems" (FSG, 1994).