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Here Jeeps, this guy was the first Poet Laureate of the United States. On this day in history...

Robert Penn Warren

Writer, critic, and teacher Robert Penn Warren died on September 15, 1989. During his long and distinguished literary carer, Warren was twice associated with the Library of Congress. In 1944-45, he served the Library as Consultant in Poetry and in 1986 Warren was named the first Poet Laureate of the United States.

Born in Guthrie, Kentucky in 1905, Warren attended Vanderbilt University. While there, he befriended a group of poets including John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Donald Davidson. From 1922-1925, they published a bi-monthly magazine called The Fugitive. Several members of the group went on to urge preservation of Southern agrarian values in the 1930 manifesto I'll Take My Stand.

Warren studied at the University of California, Yale, and at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. He subsequently taught at several colleges and universities including Vanderbilt, the University of Minnesota, and Yale. With Cleanth Brooks and Charles Pipkin, Warren founded The Southern Review. Among the most influential American literary magazines of the time, it deeply influenced and fostered the development of Southern writers.

In Understanding Poetry (1938) and Understanding Fiction (1943), also written with Cleanth Brooks, Warren championed the "New Criticism"—a school of literary interpretation that approaches each work as an individual artistic production rather than a reflection of the author's personal or historical experience.

Warren's novels include Night Rider (1939), At Heaven's Gate (1943), World Enough and Time (1950), Band of Angels (1956), and The Cave (1959). All the King's Men (1946) used the career of Louisiana demagogue Huey Long to examine the corrupting nature of power. It received the 1947 Pulitzer Prize and the film adaptation won the 1949 Academy Award for best motion picture. Warren's short fiction includes The Circus in the Attic, and Other Stories (1947).

Warren twice garnered the Pulitzer Prize for poetry—in 1958 for Promises: Poems, 1954-1956 and in 1979 for Now and Then; Poems 1976-1978. His other poetry volumes include You, Emperors, and Others (1960), Audubon: A Vision (1969), Rumor Verified (1981), Chief Joseph (1983), and New and Selected Poems, 1923-1985 (1985). His long narrative poem Brother to Dragons (1953) deals with the brutal murder of a slave by two nephews of Thomas Jefferson. The poetry of his later years touched on a variety of themes including aging, immortality, and nature.
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