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James Dickey ( 1923 - 1997 )  Category ( Poets ) [suggest a correction]

United States Poet Laureate James Dickey was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Eugene and Maibelle Swift Dickey. His father was a lawyer and his mother a homemaker. Upon his graduation from North Fulton High School, Dickey enrolled at Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina. He was there for only one semester, though during that time he played on the football team.

This was during World War II, and caught up in patriotic fervor; Dickey left college and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he served as a night fighter pilot. He continued his military career through the Korean War, though he did take some time off between the two in order to complete degrees in English and philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

Dickey married Maxine Syerson in 1948. The couple had two sons, Christopher and Kevin. When Maxine died in 1976, Dickey married Deborah Dodson. The couple had one daughter, Bronwen. His son, Christopher, wrote a memoir of his father and their sometimes troubled relationship.

He began his teaching career at the University of Florida, then at Rice University from 1950 to 1954. After that he worked writing advertising copy and assisting the Coca-Cola and Lay's Potato Chips corporations in formulating creative advertising campaigns. He later stated that he did so in order to "make some bucks," and that he "was selling my soul to the devil all day...and trying to buy it back at night."

His nocturnal efforts paid off finally in 1960, when his first book of poetry, Into the Stone and Other Poems, was published. The collection garnered significant attention, and Dickey was presented with a Guggenheim fellowship. In 1965 he received a National Book Award for his Buckdancer's Choice.

He was appointed Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress in 1966 and served through 1968. Many consider his Poems 1957-1967 his best work. He accepted the position of Professor of English at the University of South Carolina in 1968. Dickey became part of mainstream culture in 1972, when the film version of his novel, Deliverance, was released in 1972. The poet even played a cameo role in the film, portraying a sheriff.

He was asked to read his poem, "The Strength of Fields" at Jimmy Carter's presidential inauguration in 1977. The last thirty years of his life were spent as a professor and poet-in-residence at the University of South Carolina. He suffered with ill health during the 1990s, as well as from alcoholism.

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Title :From Revolution to Reconstruction: Outlines: Outline of American Literature: American Poetry Since 1945: Authors: James Dickey (1923- )
Description : USA-project, outlines-area, An outline of American Litarature by Kathryn VanSpanckeren published by the United States Information Agency
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