Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977)
Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977) wrote 21 books of poetry, seven fictional books, six essay books, five books of criticism, three biographies, and two autobiographies. He also edited or gathered literature for 32 anthologies and translated or adapted 11 books. Untermeyer served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1961 to 1963. For some time, he expressed his Marxist beliefs and anti-war attitudes by writing for magazines such as The Masses, The Liberator, and then The New Masses. He also co-founded the poetry magazine The Seven Arts and was a panelist on the television quiz show What’s My Line? until it was found that he had accidentally signed some Communist-sympathetic papers and the public protested his appearance on the show. He had become suspect in the eyes of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and was blacklisted from television because of it. Untermeyer and his wife Bryna wrote various books for children as part of the Golden Treasury of Children’s Literature. Several of his poetry books are used as textbooks in colleges and other schools. He was awarded a Gold Medal from the Poetry Society of America, and gave lectures on literature for a number of years both nationally and internationally. Many of his works and personal items are preserved in the Lilly Library at Indiana University. He often wrote poetry with young people in mind, at times using Biblical references throughout his work. Some of his poetry books were The New Adam (1920), Food and Drink (1932), and Labyrinth of Love (1965).
Written by Monica Root, December 2013.