Youth and educationEdit
Winters was born in Chicago, Illinois and brought up in Eagle Rock, California. He attended the University of Chicago where he was a member of a literary circle including Glenway Wescott, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, and his future wife Janet Lewis.
He suffered from tuberculosis in his late teens, and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There he recuperated in a sanatorium and wrote his early poems, which were published in 1921 and 1922. In 1923 and 1924 he taught primary and high school in New Mexico. He enrolled at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1925. In 1926, he married the poet and novelist Janet Lewis.
After graduating, Winters taught at the University of Idaho for two years. He then began a doctorate at Stanford University, from which he graduated in 1934. He joined Stanford's English Department in 1928.
His students included the poets Thom Gunn, Donald Hall, Jim McMichael, N. Scott Momaday, Robert Pinsky, John Matthias, Moore Moran, and Robert Hass, and the critic Gerald Graff. He was also a mentor to Donald Justice and J.V. Cunningham.
In his criticism Winters championed the idea that a work of art should be 'an act of moral judgement', and attacked such literary icons as Henry James and T.S. Eliot. Despite once being denounced by Stanford's English Department head as "a disgrace to the department," he remained at Stanford until two years before his death.
Winters's early poetry, which appeared in small avant-garde magazines alongside work by writers like James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, was written in the modernist idiom, and was heavily influenced both by Native American poetry and by Imagism. His essay, The Testament of a Stone, gives an account of his poetics during this early period.
Around 1930, he turned away from modernism and developed an Augustan style of writing, notable for its clarity of statement and its formality of rhyme and rhythm.
Winters's critical style was comparable to that of F.R. Leavis, and like Leavis he created a school of students (of mixed loyalty). His affiliations and proposed literary canon, however, were quite different: Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence above any one novel by Henry James, Robert Bridges above T.S. Eliot, Charles Churchill above Alexander Pope, Fulke Greville and George Gascoigne above Sidney and Spenser.
He attacked Romanticism, particularly in American manifestations, and set about Emerson's reputation as that of a sacred cow.(Citation needed) (Ironically, his first book of poems, Diadems and Fagots, takes its title from one of Emerson's poems.) In this he was probably influenced by Irving Babbitt. Winters was sometimes and questionably associated with the New Criticism, largely because John Crowe Ransom devoted a chapter to him in his book by the same name. He bestowed the sobriquet "the cool master" on the American poet Wallace Stevens. (See the entries for Wallace Stevens, Harmonium, and Floral Decorations for Bananas.)
Winters is known for his argument attacking the "fallacy of imitative form:" "To say that a poet is justified in employing a disintegrating form in order to express a feeling of disintegration, is merely a sophistical justification for bad poetry, akin to the Whitmanian notion that one must write loose and sprawling poetry to "express" the loose and sprawling American continent. In fact, all feeling, if one gives oneself (that is, one's form) up to it, is a way of disintegration; poetic form is by definition a means to arrest the disintegration and order the feeling; and in so far as any poetry tends toward the formless, it fails to be expressive of anything." (Primitivism and Decadence: A Study of American Experimental Poetry, 1937).
Winters was awarded the 1961 Bollingen Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems.
- The Immobile Wind. Evanston, IL: M. Wheeler, 1921.
- The Magpie's Shadow. Chicago: Musterbookhouse, 1922.
- The Bare Hills: A book of poems. Boston: Four Seas, 1927.
- The Proof. New York: Coward-McCann, 1930.
- The Journey, and other poems. Ithaca, NY: Dragon Press, 1931.
- Before Disaster. Tryon, NC: Tryon Pamphlets, 1934.
- Poems. Los Altos, CA: Gyroscope Press, 1940.
- The Giant Weapon. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1943.
- To the Holy Spirit. San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1947.
- Three Poems. Cummington, MA: Cummington Press, 1950.
- Collected Poems. Denver, CO: A. Swallow, 1952;
- The Early Poems, 1920-1928. Denver, CO: A. Swallow, 1966.
- Uncollected Poems, 1919-1928 (edited by R.L. Barth). Edgewood, KY: R.L. Barth, 1997.
- The Uncollected Poems, 1929-1957 (edited by R.L. Barth). Edgewood, KY: R.L. Barth, 1997.
- Selected Poems (edited by R.L. Barth). Athens, OH: Swallow Press / Ohio University Press, 1999.
- Selected Poems (edited by Thom Gunn). New York: Library of America, 2003.
- The Testament of a Stone: Notes on the mechanics of the poetic image. Vienna, 1925.
- The Case of David Lamson: A summary (with Frances Theresa Russell). San Francisco: Lamson Defense Committee, 1934.
- The Brink of Darkness (pamphlet). Concord, NH: 1932; Denver, CO: A. Swallow, 1947.
- Primitivism and Decadence: A Study of American experimental poetry. New York: Arrow Editions, 1937.
- Maule's Curse: Seven studies in the history of American obscurantism: Hawthorne, Cooper, Melville, Poe, Emerson, Jones Very, Emily Dickinson, Henry James. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1938.
- The Anatomy of Nonsense. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1943.
- Edwin Arlington Robinson. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1946; revised edition, New York: New Directions, 1971.
- In Defense of Reason (includes Primitivism and decadence: A study of American experimental poetry, Maule's Curse: Seven studies in the history of American obscurantism, The Anatomy of Nonsense, & The Significance of The Bridge by Hart Crane; or, What are we to think of Professor X?). Denver, CO: A. Swallow, 1943; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1943; New York: Swallow Press / W. Morrow, 1947; Athens, OH: Swallow Press / Ohio University Press, 1987.
- The Function of Criticism: Problems and exercises. Denver, A. Swallow, 1957; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957.
- On Modern Poets: Stevens, Eliot, Ransom, Crane, Hopkins, Frost. New York: Meridian Books, 1957.
- Modern Literary Criticism (edited by Irving Howe; contributor). Beacon Press, 1958.
- Four Poets on Poetry (by Richard P. Blackmur, Yvor Winters, Marianne Moore, & Mark Van Doren; edited by Don Cameron Allen). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1959.
- The Poetry of W.B. Yeats (pamphlet). Denver, CO: A. Swallow, 1960.
- The Poetry of J.V. Cunningham (pamphlet). Denver, CO: A. Swallow, 1961.
- Elizabethan Poetry: Modern essays in criticism (edited by Paul J. Alpers; contributor). New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.
- Forms of Discovery: Critical and historical essays on the forms of the short poem in English. Chicago: A. Swallow, 1967.
- Uncollected Essays and Reviews (edited by Francis E.X. Murphy). Chicago: Swallow Press, 1973; London: Allen Lane, 1974.
- Twelve Poets of the Pacific. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1937.
- Elizabeth Daryush, Selected Poems. New York: Swallow Press, 1948.
- Poets of the Pacific: Second series. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1949.
- Quest for Reality: An anthology of short poems in English (compiled with Kenneth Fields). Chicago: Swallow Press, 1969.
- Hart Crane and Yvor Winters: Their literary correspondence (edited by Thomas F. Parkinson). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978.
- Dear Miss Yamamoto: The letters of Yvor Winters to Hisaye Yamamoto (edited by R.L. Barth). Ardmore, PA: Fifth Season Press, 1999.
- Selected Letters (edited by R.L. Barth). Athens, OH: Swallow Press / Ohio University Press, 2000.
Audio / videoEdit
- Yvor Winters (LP). Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1954.
- Yvor Winters Reads His Works (LP). New York: Carillon, 1961.
- Yvor Winters Reading at Stanford (LP). Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 1984.
Poems by Yvor WintersEdit
- The Complex of Yvor Winters' Criticism (1973) Richard J. Sexton
- Hart Crane and Yvor Winters (1978) Thomas Francis Parkinson
- An Introduction to the Poetry of Yvor Winters (1981) Elizabeth Isaacs
- Language as Being in the Poetry of Yvor Winters (1980) Grosvenor Powell
- Wisdom and Wilderness: The Achievement of Yvor Winters (1983) Dick Davis
- In Defense of Winters (1986) Terry Comito
- Champion, Rafe (2002). "Winters: A Man For All Reasons". http://www.the-rathouse.com/YWinters_essayRC.html.
- "The Immobile Wind"
- Examples of Winters's Early Imagist Poetry.
- Yvor Winters 1900-1968 at the Poetry Foundation.
- Winters in Poetry: A magazine of verse, 1912-1922: "Montezuma," "Wild Horses," "On the Mesa," "Concerning Blake," "The Old Weep Gently," "Little Rabbit," "Two Songs of Advent," "Hawk's Eyes," "The Far Voice," "The Walker," "Ballad," "The Immobile Wind," "Song for a Small Boy Who Herds Goats," "Ballad of Men," "The Priesthood," "Where My Sight Goes," "Death Goes before Me," "The Little Deity Alone in the Desert," "Late Winter," "A Requiem for the Memory of Bees," "Chicago Spring," "Old Spring," "The Silent Days," "Lament, beside an Acequia, for the Wife of Awa-tsireh," "The Fragile Season"
- Yvor Winters at PoemHunter (28 poems)
- Audio / video
- Yvor Winters profile at the Academy of American Poets.
- Yvor Winters in the Encyclopædia Britannica
- Yvor Winters at NNDB
- Yvor Winters (1900-1968) at Modern American Poetry.
- Yvor Winters: The American literary rhadamanthus (an Yvor Winters blog)
- "The Absolutist: The poetry and cricicism of Yvor Winters" in Contemporary Poetry Review
- "The Seriousness of Yvor Winters" at The New Criterion
- Winters, Leavis, and Language
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