Bly, Robert

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1926-12-23
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

For details of Robert Bly's biography, see: Robert Bly papers (Mss 81) .

From the guide to the Robert Bly Men's Movement series, 1980-1990s, 2001, 2003-2004, 2006, 2009, undated, 1980-1990s, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Plays manuscripts series, 1950s-1990s, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Vietnam War series, 1959-1972, 1975, 1982, 1984, 2007, undated, 1959-1972, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Reviews series, 1958, 1961-1993, 1998, 2008-2009, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Readings and Performances series, 1960s-1990s, 2007, undated, 1970s-1980s, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Photographs series, Circa 1900s-2007, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Audiovisual materials series, Circa 1940s-1950s, 1969-2009, undated, 1969-2009, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Prose manuscripts series, 1946-2008, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Financial materials series, 1958-2000, 2006-2008, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Journals and Diaries series, 1937-1938, 1947-2009, undated, 1947-2009, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Poetry manuscripts series, 1946-2009, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Personal series, Circa 1900s-2009, undated, 1940-2009, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Photographs series, Circa 1900s-2007, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Miscellaneous materials series, 1946-2000s, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Publishing and Editing series, 1950, 1952, 1954-1990s, 2000-2002, 2006, undated, 1957-1989, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Translations manuscripts series, 1937, 1950s-2000s, undated, 1960s-2000s, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Conferences and Workshops series, 1968, 1970s-1999, 2002-2009, undated, 1970s-2009, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Correspondence series, 1916, 1939, 1941-2009, undated, 1941-2009, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

From the guide to the Robert Bly Published materials series, 1950, 1959-1964, 1966-1995, 1999-2009, undated, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

Robert Elwood Bly was born on December 23, 1926 in Madison, Minnesota, to Jacob Thomas and Alice Myrtle (Aws) Bly. Growing up on his parents' farm, he raised livestock and showed them at 4-H gatherings. He graduated from Madison High School in 1944, and enlisted in the United States Navy the same year. He was honorably discharged in 1946, and enrolled at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. After completing one year at St. Olaf, he transferred to Harvard University in 1947. Graduating Magna Cum Laude, he was named Class Poet for the Harvard Class of 1950. While at Harvard, Bly met many poets, including Donald Hall. Their friendship grew and endured throughout their lifetime.

To launch his writing career, Bly sought a solitary period in northern Minnesota and New York City for some time. In 1954, he enrolled at the State University of Iowa; married Carolyn McLean in 1955 in Duluth, Minnesota; and received a Master's degree from Iowa in 1956.

After leaving Iowa, Bly was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study poetry in Oslo, Norway. It was there that he was exposed to poetry by international writers for the first time. In 1958, he collaborated with William Duffy to publish The Fifties magazine whose primary goal was to shed the formality of poetry they found prevalent in contemporary writing. Another goal of the magazine was to introduce international poets to American audiences. Bly and Duffy were generous in publishing many works of young, struggling poets from around the world, including their own poetry. The Fifties continued to be published as The Sixties and The Seventies .

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the Bly family grew from two to six. Bly's first book of poetry, Silence in the Snowy Fields, was published in 1962. In 1966, Bly co-founded the American Writers Against the Vietnam War with poet, David Ray. Among other things, this organization existed to conduct poetry "read-ins" across the country on college and university campuses, and other venues, protesting the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Throughout this period, Bly protested, attended draft card burnings, was arrested, and wrote anti-war poetry in an effort to stop the massacre of innocent lives.

Robert Bly's National Book Award winning book of poetry, The Light Around the Body, was published in 1967. As part of his acceptance speech at the award ceremony in 1968, he called upon others to protest the war, and presented his award funds to resistors of the draft. In 1979, Robert and Carol Bly divorced. Bly married Ruth Ray in 1980.

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Bly continued to write his own poetry and publish the works of other poets, including international poets. His translating expertise grew as he collaborated with poets and translators around the world.

In 1975, Bly organized the first annual Great Mother Conference. In the course of the ten day event, poetry, music, and dance were utilized to examine human consciousness. These conferences evolved into the Great Mother and New Father Conferences, adding storytelling, fairy tales, mythology, and other creative expressions to the many workshop offerings.

In May 1982, Bly collaborated with Keith Thompson to publish a groundbreaking article, "What Men Really Want" in New Age magazine. The unprecedented international response from that article developed into Bly's work with the Mythopoetic Men's Movement . Men's groups were organized, whereby men shared poetry readings, storytelling, drumming, rituals, and more. The group retreats and day events enabled men to explore new ways of relating to each other, to their fathers, and to women. Bly continued his work with this movement through 2010. The concepts in the 1982 New Age article were expanded and eventually published by Bly in 1990 in the form of the New York Times best-selling prose work, Iron John: A book about men .

From a very early age, Bly had aspirations of performing in front of groups. That desire was realized again and again by his public appearances around the world. The notoriety of Bly's stature as award-winning poet, translator, and publisher created a demand for his unique style of reading of both his own and others' poetry. Always generous in sharing the stage, many of Bly's performances incorporated musical and other accompaniment, and left audiences forever transformed.

Bly continued to write and translate into the 21st century, including translating Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt into English. In 2008, it was produced and performed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Robert Bly was named the first poet laureate for Minnesota in 2008.

Bly's awards and honors include:

First place for essay in High School English paper, “Pioneer Patterns for our Nation’s Tomorrow”, Circa 1940-1944 Leland Rowberg Memorial Essay Award for paper at St. Olaf College, “The Negro Problem: Its Solution”, 1947 Lloyd McKim Garrison Prize for poem, “The Indian Trail”, 1950 Fulbright Scholarship, 1956 Longview Literary Award for work in The Fifties magazine, 1959 Inez Boulton Prize, 1963 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, 1964 Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, 1964 National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant, 1965 Rockefeller Foundation grant, 1967 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Endowment (refused), 1967 National Book Award, 1968 Midland Poetry Award, 1969 Bush Artist Fellowship, 1978 Pushcart Prize VIII, 1984 Bush Artist Fellowship, 1985 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1987 Best American Poetry, 1998 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award, 2000 Bjørnson Order of Literary Merit (Norway), 2000 University of Minnesota Distinguished Writer, 2002 Maurice English Poetry Award, 2002 Bess Hokin Prize, 2003 Pushcart Prize XXIX, 2005 Minnesota's first Poet Laureate, 2008 Pushcart Prize XXXII, 2008 Tomas Tranströmer Prize, 2008

Robert Bly has written original poetry, prose, and plays; translated poetry and prose of other writers; and published and edited numerous works. The "Blyography" is vast, and has not been gathered comprehensively. For listings of his works, see Robert Bly's website, Robert Bly's wikipedia entry, and LitCheck: The Center for Literary Biography Online's entry for Robert Bly at the University of South Carolina. In addition, for more biographical information on Robert Bly, researchers may consult a fee-based database, Contemporary Authors, available at university and public libraries.

From the guide to the Robert Bly papers, Circa 1900s-2009, undated, 1946-1999, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

Robert Elwood Bly was born on December 23, 1926 in Madison, Minnesota, to Jacob Thomas and Alice Myrtle (Aws) Bly. Growing up on his parents' farm, he raised livestock and showed them at 4-H gatherings. He graduated from Madison High School in 1944, and enlisted in the United States Navy the same year. He was honorably discharged in 1946, and enrolled at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. After completing one year at St. Olaf, he transferred to Harvard University in 1947. Graduating Magna Cum Laude, he was named Class Poet for the Harvard Class of 1950. While at Harvard, Bly met many poets, including Donald Hall. Their friendship grew and endured throughout their lifetime.

To launch his writing career, Bly sought a solitary period in northern Minnesota and New York City for some time. In 1954, he enrolled at the State University of Iowa; married Carolyn McLean in 1955 in Duluth, Minnesota; and received a Master's degree from Iowa in 1956.

After leaving Iowa, Bly was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study poetry in Oslo, Norway. It was there that he was exposed to poetry by international writers for the first time. In 1958, he collaborated with William Duffy to publish The Fifties magazine whose primary goal was to shed the formality of poetry they found prevalent in contemporary writing. Another goal of the magazine was to introduce international poets to American audiences. Bly and Duffy were generous in publishing many works of young, struggling poets from around the world, including their own poetry. The Fifties continued to be published as The Sixties and The Seventies .

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the Bly family grew from two to six. Bly's first book of poetry, Silence in the Snowy Fields, was published in 1962. In 1966, Bly co-founded the American Writers Against the Vietnam War with poet, David Ray. Among other things, this organization existed to conduct poetry "read-ins" across the country on college and university campuses, and other venues, protesting the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Throughout this period, Bly protested, attended draft card burnings, was arrested, and wrote anti-war poetry in an effort to stop the massacre of innocent lives.

Robert Bly's National Book Award winning book of poetry, The Light Around the Body, was published in 1967. As part of his acceptance speech at the award ceremony in 1968, he called upon others to protest the war, and presented his award funds to resistors of the draft. In 1979, Robert and Carol Bly divorced. Bly married Ruth Ray in 1980.

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Bly continued to write his own poetry and publish the works of other poets, including international poets. His translating expertise grew as he collaborated with poets and translators around the world.

In 1975, Bly organized the first annual Great Mother Conference. In the course of the ten day event, poetry, music, and dance were utilized to examine human consciousness. These conferences evolved into the Great Mother and New Father Conferences, adding storytelling, fairy tales, mythology, and other creative expressions to the many workshop offerings.

In May 1982, Bly collaborated with Keith Thompson to publish a groundbreaking article, "What Men Really Want" in New Age magazine. The unprecedented international response from that article developed into Bly's work with the Mythopoetic Men's Movement . Men's groups were organized, whereby men shared poetry readings, storytelling, drumming, rituals, and more. The group retreats and day events enabled men to explore new ways of relating to each other, to their fathers, and to women. Bly continued his work with this movement through 2010. The concepts in the 1982 New Age article were expanded and eventually published by Bly in 1990 in the form of the New York Times best-selling prose work, Iron John: A book about men .

From a very early age, Bly had aspirations of performing in front of groups. That desire was realized again and again by his public appearances around the world. The notoriety of Bly's stature as award-winning poet, translator, and publisher created a demand for his unique style of reading of both his own and others' poetry. Always generous in sharing the stage, many of Bly's performances incorporated musical and other accompaniment, and left audiences forever transformed.

Bly continued to write and translate into the 21st century, including translating Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt into English. In 2008, it was produced and performed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Robert Bly was named the first poet laureate for Minnesota in 2008.

Bly's awards and honors include:

First place for essay in High School English paper, “Pioneer Patterns for our Nation’s Tomorrow”, Circa 1940-1944 Leland Rowberg Memorial Essay Award for paper at St. Olaf College, “The Negro Problem: Its Solution”, 1947 Lloyd McKim Garrison Prize for poem, “The Indian Trail”, 1950 Fulbright Scholarship, 1956 Longview Literary Award for work in The Fifties magazine, 1959 Inez Boulton Prize, 1963 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, 1964 Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, 1964 National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant, 1965 Rockefeller Foundation grant, 1967 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Endowment (refused), 1967 National Book Award, 1968 Midland Poetry Award, 1969 Bush Artist Fellowship, 1978 Pushcart Prize VIII, 1984 Bush Artist Fellowship, 1985 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1987 Best American Poetry, 1998 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award, 2000 Bjørnson Order of Literary Merit (Norway), 2000 University of Minnesota Distinguished Writer, 2002 Maurice English Poetry Award, 2002 Bess Hokin Prize, 2003 Pushcart Prize XXIX, 2005 Minnesota's first Poet Laureate, 2008 Pushcart Prize XXXII, 2008 Tomas Tranströmer Prize, 2008

Robert Bly has written original poetry, prose, and plays; translated poetry and prose of other writers; and published and edited numerous works. The "Blyography" is vast, and has not been gathered comprehensively. For listings of his works, see Robert Bly's website, Robert Bly's wikipedia entry, and LitCheck: The Center for Literary Biography Online's entry for Robert Bly at the University of South Carolina. In addition, for more biographical information on Robert Bly, researchers may consult a fee-based database, Contemporary Authors, available at university and public libraries.

From the guide to the Robert Bly papers, Circa 1900s-2009, undated, 1946-1999, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss])

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5962483

Subjects:

  • Poetry--Translations into English
  • Poetry--Translating
  • Poetry--Publishing
  • Oral interpretation of poetry
  • Poetry--History and criticism
  • Poetry
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Poetry
  • Play
  • American poetry--Minnesota
  • Anti-war poetry
  • Men's movement

Occupations:

  • Publishers and publishing
  • Translator
  • Poets

Places:

  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)
  • Minnesota (as recorded)