In Memoriam: Reed Whittemore, Former Poet Laureate
Reed Whittemore passed away on Friday, April 6 at the age of 92.
Professor Reed Whittemore received a Bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1941; after military service from 1941-45, he also studied for a year at Princeton. He taught at Carleton College from 1947-66, where he became Professor of English. In 1965-66 and again in 1984-85, he served as Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress, the position that has been recognized as that of America's unofficial "poet laureate." From 1968 until his retirement in 1984, Whittemore was a Professor of English at the University of Maryland. He was also Poet Laureate of the State of Maryland from 1985-88.
Professor Whittemore was the author of numerous books of poetry, including The Mother's Breast & The Father's House
(Houghton Mifflin, 1973), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and 50 Poems 50
(1970). His poetry is marked by a conversational but rigorous style, full of irony, satire, and intelligence. Aside from publishing poetry, Whittemore authored memoirs and essays, and numerous works of criticism and biography. His interests often focused on the great American poets and writers, as in Six Literary Lives: The Shared Impiety of Adams, London, Sinclair, Williams, Dos Passos, and Tate
(U Missouri P, 1992). His last work was Against the Grain: The Literary Life of a Poet, A Memoir by Reed Whittemore
(Dryad, 2007). Visit Dryad Press at see www.dryadpress.com
Colleagues found Profesor Whittemore amazingly well read, witty but deep, exhilarating; he was a true person of letters, and one of the greatest of his generation.
Obituaries are available from the New York Times
and from the Washington Post
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