Robert Bly

1926 –

Robert Bly was born on December 23, 1926, in Madison, Minnesota. He attended Harvard University and received his MA from the University of Iowa in 1956. As a poet, editor, and translator, Bly has had a profound impact on the shape of American poetry.

Bly is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, including Stealing Sugar from the Castle: Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2013); Talking into the Ear of a Donkey: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2011); Reaching Out to the World: New and Selected Prose Poems (White Pine Press, 2009); My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy (HarperCollins, 2005); The Night Abraham Called to the Stars (HarperCollins, 2001); Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (Dial Press, 1985); This Body is Made of Camphor and Gopherwood (Harper & Row, 1977); and The Light Around the Body (Harper & Row, 1967), which won the National Book Award.

As the editor of the magazine The Sixties (begun as The Fifties), Bly introduced many unknown European and South American poets to an American audience. He is also the editor of numerous collections including (Beacon Press, 2007); Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (Beacon Press, 2004), co-authored with Jane Hirshfield; The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures (HarperCollins, 1995); Leaping Poetry: An Idea with Poems and Translations (Beacon Press, 1975); The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men (HarperCollins, 1992); News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness (Sierra Club Books, 1980); and A Poetry Reading Against the Vietnam War (American Writers Against the Vietnam War, 1966). Among his many books of translations are Lorca and Jiminez: Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1997); Times Alone: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado (Wesleyan University Press, 1983); The Kabir Book: Ecstatic Poems (Beacon Press, 1977); Friends, You Drank Some Darkness: Three Swedish Poets—Martinson, Ekeloef, and Transtromer (Beacon Press, 1975); and Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1971), co-translated with John Knoepfle and James Wright.

Bly is also the author of a number of nonfiction books, including The Sibling Society (Addison-Wesley, 1996); The Spirit Boy and the Insatiable Soul (HarperCollins Publishers / Perennial, 1994); Iron John: A Book about Men (Da Capo, 1990); and Talking All Morning: Collected Conversations and Interviews (University of Michigan, 1980).

Bly’s honors include Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, as well as The Robert Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.

Bly lived on a farm in the western part of Minnesota with his wife and three children until his death on November 21, 2021.