Louise Bogan (1897-1970)
Louise Bogan (August 11, 1897 - February 4, 1970) wrote six books of poetry and three books of prose. Her poems were published in the New Republic, the Nation, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Scribner’s, and Atlantic Monthly. She also reviewed poetry for The New Yorker for 38 years. She did not enjoy talking about herself and found confessional poetry to be self-indulgent. She kept to strict lyrical forms, yet managed to convey a lot of emotion in her work. Bogan was fascinated with exploring the dissonance between the heart and the mind.
Bogan was born in Maine to a working class family, and her mother struggled with mental illness. She completed only one year of college. Despite these impediments, Bogan was appointed US Poet Laureate in 1945, the first woman to be so honored.
Bogan is the author of six books of poems: Body of This Death (1923), Dark Summer (1929), The Sleeping Fury (1937), Poems and New Poems (1941), Collected Poems, 1923 – 1953 (1954), and The Blue Estuaries (1968). In addition, she translated works by Ernst Jünger, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Yvan Goll, and Jules Renard. Her criticism was collected in Achievement in American Poetry, 1900-1950 (1951), and she co-edited The Golden Journey: Poems for Young People (with William Jay Smith, 1965). Her selected letters were published posthumously in 1973, as was an autobiography, Journey Around My Room (1980).
Bogan was a visiting professor at the University of Washington, the University of Chicago, the University of Arkansas, and Brandeis University. Her honors include a Bollingen Award and an Academy of American Poets award.
Written by Word Works intern Monica Root October 2013; edited by Kim Roberts January 2016.