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James Tate (1943 - 2015)

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  • James Tate (1943-2015) grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. He was the author several books of poems and taught at the University of Massachusetts. His Selected Poems (1991) won the Pulitzer Prize.
    Praise for James Tate (1943 - 2015) `American poetry, in desperate need of real vision, is being finally rewarded with the genuine article.'
    Jorie Graham
    ` . . .he has the rare ability to be very, very funny on the page . . .'
    New York Times Book Review
    'I met Jim Tate in Jerusalem about fifteen years ago, at a festival. I'd always been interested in his work - that tension between the deadpan and the deadly serious - and hearing him read made me admire his poetry all the more. I think we took a bit of a shine to each other as well, stumbling around in the sand, and we've been in contact on and off ever since. I've taught Jim's poems at Leeds and Manchester Metropolitan Universities to both M.A. and undergraduate students, and regularly use his poem "The Tryst" in workshop and seminar, the lesson being simply "this is how to write". I've also read his poems on national network radio, particularly on BBC Radio 1, 2 and 4 - his humour and irony seem to work well over the airwaves to large audiences. Two of his poems appear in my anthology Short and Sweet (Faber & Faber, 1999). I don't know if he has a closer reader or more passionate advocate on this side of the Atlantic - if he does, who is it? But actually it's easier (and more humbling) to say what Jim has done for me. It was through Jim that I was invited to teach at The University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop for a semester in 2000 - he'd recommended me to Jorie Graham. He's invited me over to read on three separate occasions at UMASS (and again this coming May) and put me in touch with many other poets who have become friends and whose work I would have otherwise missed. He's also told me who to avoid. A long time ago he almost fixed me up with a publishing deal at Ecco Press. It didn't happen, but now it is happening, with Harcourt, and as I was editing the selection I had Jim in mind as the reader I most wanted to impress. He's a sweet man, but I don't suppose anyone who knows him needs me to tell them that.'
    Simon Armitage

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