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Portland, Oregon

Robert Bly

Robert Bly—groundbreaking poet, editor, and translator—shares his poetry in this recording from 2006.

In this episode, we feature poet Robert Bly who came to Portland as part of our Poetry Downtown series in 2006.

Born in 1926, Bly is considered one of the legends of contemporary poetry.  He is not only the author of more than 30 collections of poems, he has also written many works of nonfiction, and, crucially, he introduced many unknown European and South American poets to a U.S. audience through his work as an editor. Robert Bly passed away in November 2021, at the age of 94.

“What’s the most beautiful word in the English language? I think maybe it’s ‘listen.'”

“For a couple of years, I stayed in bed until I had written my poem for the day.”

Robert Bly is the author of more than 30 books of poetry, including The Light Around the Body (1967), which won the National Book Award. He is also an editor, translator, and nonfiction writer. A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, Bly received a Fulbright scholarship to travel to Norway and translate Norwegian poetry into English. During his time as editor of the magazine The Sixties, he introduced many unknown European and South American poets to an American audience and because of this, is regarded by many to have had a profound impact on the shape of American poetry. His honors include Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, as well as The Robert Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.

“When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake, we place our feet where they have never been. We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.”

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