John Gould Fletcher was born on January 3, 1886, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The son of a cotton broker, he enrolled at Harvard University but left before receiving a degree. He began writing poetry during a trip to the West Coast in 1905.
After his father died in 1906, leaving him an independent income, Fletcher moved to Italy and later settled in London. There, he met Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and the other imagist poets. Although he initially declined Pound’s invitation to appear in his anthology Des Imagistes, Fletcher joined the imagist group after Amy Lowell assumed leadership in 1914. He published his first five poetry manuscripts, including The Dominant City (Max Goschen) and Fire and Wine (Grant Richards), in 1913.
Fletcher went on to publish numerous poetry collections, including South Star (Macmillan, 1941), The Black Rock (Macmillan, 1928), Goblins and Pagodas (Houghton Mifflin, 1916), and Irradiations: Sand and Spray (Houghton Mifflin, 1915). He was also the author of an autobiography, Life Is My Song (Farrar & Rinehart, 1937), and a history of his native state, Arkansas (University of North Carolina Press, 1947).
Fletcher returned to Arkansas in 1933. In 1938 he became the first Southern poet to win the Pulitzer Prize, for Selected Poems (Farrar & Rinehart, 1938). He died near his country home in Little Rock, Arkansas, on May 10, 1950.