Poet, critic, and teacher of literature, Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee on May 6, 1914. Jarrell had a “difficult childhood marked by the separation of his parents and by being moved around from place to place; the desire for true ‘home’ is a topic for much of his poetry” (McCann). Jarrell attended college at Vanderbilt University where he met a major influence on his poetry, John Crowe Ransom, who was “active during the 1920‘s and 1930‘s in reinvigorating Southern poetry” (McCann). Through Ransom, he also met Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, and Donald Davidson; who were part of the waning Fugitive movement. Jarrell followed Ransom to Kenyon College, where he began a lifelong association with Robert Lowell. He completed his M.A. degree in literature and began his career as a professor at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1942 Randall Jarrell enlisted in the Army Air Corps and went to war. He worked as a control tower operator which gave him “plenty of knowledge and war experience to lend authority to his poetry and reinforced his sense that the commonality of human experience was a sense of loss” (McCann). His experience working as a control tower operator provided much of the material for his poetry. Jarrell was recognized as the poet of World War II. After the war Jarrell went back to teaching in Sarah Lawrence College, where he became literary editor of the Nation. As editor of the Nation, “his tendency to rip authors to shreds was well known; his statements on poetics were direct and peremptory.” He traveled widely the following years and received several honors and awards. “In 1958, he accepted a position as professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, where he was to remain more or less for the rest of his teaching career” (McCann). Jarrell was struck and killed by a vehicle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on October 14, 1965. Jarrell had a well known reputation as an artist and...
Cited: Petty, Chapel Louise. “Randall Jarrell.” Critical Survey of Poetry, Second Revised Edition. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2002. 1-6. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 28 March 2012
McCann, Janet. “Randall Jarrell.” Magill’s Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition. Detroit: Salem Press, 2006. 1-6. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 28 March 2012
Academy of American Poets. “Randall Jarrell.” Poets.org. Academy of America, 2012. Web. 28 March 2012
Jarrell, Randall. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. 9th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford, 2011. 802, Print
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