Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) won two National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, along with the Bollingen Prize and the Frost Medal. He was one of the American poets who were considered the high priests of literary modernism, along with T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Robert Frost. He was a presence in poetry for more than four decades and had an enormous impact on poetry’s substance and direction.
Literary studies of his poetry abound. Several biographies of Stevens were written in the 1980s and a few in the 1990s. Twenty years after the last major biography, Paul Mariani has published The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens.
Mariani is especially well-suited for the task. A poet himself, he has published seven collections of poetry and numerous non-fiction works. His biographies include William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked (1981); Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman (1990); Lost Puritan: The Life of Robert Lowell (1996); The Broken Tower: A Life of Hart Crane (1999); and Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life (2008).
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Top photograph: Wallace Stevens late in life.