James Tate (1943-2015) is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Return to the City of White Donkeys (Harper Collins, 2004); Memoir of the Hawk (Ecco Press, 2001); Shroud of the Gnome (1997); and Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994), which won the National Book Award. His Selected Poems (1991) won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award. His collection of short fiction, Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee, was published by Verse Press in 2002. His honors include a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He taught at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
(Author photo by Stephen Long)
Tate has always had a serious purpose. He has not only written many good poems, he has done so in so many different and original ways that I cannot think of anyone of comparable range.
—Charles Simic, Paris Review
On the surface, his poetry is deliberately difficult: his poems are nonsensical, contain plotless monologues, delight in parodies of ordinary speech and violent shifts in tone. But if his style owes a great deal to Dada, his feeling is almost Victorian in its piety: he is always concerned to tell us that beneath the busyness and loneliness of our daily lives, there remains in us the possibility for peace, happiness and real human connection.
—Adam Kirsch, New York Times
Reviews of books by James Tate
Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee
- Cross Connect, with Mike Magee
- Poets & Writers, with Nick Twemlow
- James Tate’s page on PennSound
- Reading at the Key West Literary Seminar
Reading with Dara Wier at the Walker Art Center: