John Gould Fletcher

John Gould Fletcher, circa 1927. Courtesy Wikipedia.

John Gould Fletcher (January 3, 1886 - May 10, 1950) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet. He "is considered by many literary scholars to be among the most innovative 20th-century poets."[1]


Fletcher was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to a socially prominent family. After attending Phillips Academy in Andover, New Hampshire, Fletcher went on to Harvard University from 1903 to 1907, when he dropped out shortly after his father's death.

Fletcher lived in England for a large portion of his life. While there he associated with Amy Lowell, Ezra Pound, and other Imagist poets, enjoying the vibrant social scene.

Fletcher resumed a liaison with Florence Emily 'Daisy'(Goold) Arbuthnot at her house in Kent. She had been married to Malcolm Arbuthnot, and Fletcher's adultery with her was the grounds for the divorce. She and Fletcher married on July 5, 1916. Their marriage produced no children, but Arbuthnot's son and daughter from her previous marriage lived with the couple.

On January 18, 1936, he married a noted author of children's books, Charlie May Simon. They built "Johnswood", a residence on the bluffs of the Arkansas River outside Little Rock. They traveled frequently, however, to New York City for the intellectual stimulation and to the American Southwest for the climate, after Fletcher began to suffer from arthritis.

Fletcher suffered from depression, and on May 20, 1950, committed suicide[2] by drowning in a pond near his home in Little Rock.

Fletcher is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.[3]



In 1913 Ezra Pound in a review for the New Freewoman commended Fletcher for the individuality of rhythm in his 1st volume of poems.[4] Amy Lowell said of him: "No one is more absolute master of the rhythm of verse libre".[5] Fletcher invented the term 'polyphonic prose' to describe some poetic experiments of Amy Lowell,[6] a form he experimented with in Goblins & Pagodas.[4]

Fletcher later returned to his home in Arkansas and reconnected with his roots. The subject of his works turned increasingly towards southern United States issues and traditionalism. In his later poetic works Fletcher returned to more traditional forms.

In the late 1920s and 1930s he was active with a group of 11 other Southern writers and poets known as the Southern Agrarians. This group published the classic Agrarian manifesto I'll Take My Stand, a collection of essays rejecting modernity and industrialism. In 1937 he wrote his autobiography, Life is My Song, and in 1947 he published Arkansas, a beautifully written history of his home state.


Fletcher won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1939 for his 1938 Selected Poems.

A branch of the Central Arkansas Library System is named in his honor.

Publications Edit



  • Paul Gauguin: His Life and Art. New York: Brown, 1921.
  • John Smith — Also Pocahontas. New York: Brentano's, 1928.
  • The Crisis of the Film. Seattle: University of Washington Book Store, 1929.
  • The Two Frontiers: A study in historical psychology. New York: Coward-McCann, 1930;
    • published as Europe's Two Frontiers: A study of the historical forces at work in Russia and America as they will increasingly affect European civilization. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1930.
  • Introduction to John Smith, The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captaine John Smith. New York: Rimington & Hooper, 1930.
  • Life Is My Song: An autobiography of John Gould Fletcher. New York & Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, 1937.
  • Arkansas. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1947; Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1989.
  • Selected Essays (edited by Lucas Carpenter). Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1989.


  • Elie Faure, The Dance Over Fire and Water. New York: Harper, 1926.
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau, Reveries of a Solitary. New York: Brentano's, 1927.
  • Yvan Goll, Jean Sans Terre / Landless John (translated with others). San Francisco, CA: Grabhorn Press, 1944.



  • Selected Letters. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1996.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesty the Poetry Foundation.[1]

John Gould Fletcher - Lincoln

John Gould Fletcher - Lincoln

Poems by John Gould FletcherEdit

  1. Lake Front at Night

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 "John Gould Fletcher," Poetry Foundation, Web, Nov. 13, 2011.
  2. Jamison, Kay R. (1994). "This Net Throwne Upon the Heavens". Touched with fire: manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. Simon and Schuster. p. 249. ISBN 9780684831831. Retrieved 15 June 2009. 
  3. "John Gould Fletcher,", Web, May 31, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Imagist Poetry, (edited by Peter Jones). London: Penguin Books, 1972. ISBN|0-14-042147-5
  5. Lowell Amy, Tendencies of Modern American Poetry, Macmillan, New York, 1917
  6. Miss Lowell's Discovery: Polyphonic Prose Poetry, Chicago 1915

External links Edit

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