Howard Nemerov

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), a native of New York City, was a widely published poet who was been recognized with numerous prizes, awards, grants, and fellowships. He graduated from Harvard in 1941 and immediately enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Nemerov flew for the Canadian forces in Europe until 1944, when he joined the U.S. Army Air Force and flew combat missions until 1945.

In 1946, Nemerov became an associate editor of Furioso and began teaching at Hamilton College. He served onFurioso until 1951 and taught at several other schools—Bennington College, the University of Minnesota, Brandeis University and Hollins College—until 1963, when he received a one year appointment as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress. In 1969 Nemerov joined the English faculty at Washington University where he was a highly visible and popular teacher, holding the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished Professor of English Chair.

Nemerov is known for a diverse body of poetry that has been praised for its technical excellence, intelligence, and wit. Writing verse in a variety of forms and styles—including lyrical, narrative, and meditative—Nemerov examined religious, philosophical, scientific, and existential concerns. Although Nemerov frequently has been labeled an academic poet because of his detached stance, his firm grounding in formal verse, and the moralistic tone of some of his work, he often incorporated irony, satire, and colloquial language into his works.

Although he is best known as a poet, Nemerov wrote novels, short stories, essays, and criticism. His first book,The Image and the Law, was published in 1947 and he went on to produce over 20 books. Nemerov received nearly every award or prize available to poets including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1977 for Collected Poems, and the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1981. He was inducted into the Academy of American Poets in 1971 and was elected a member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters in 1977.

Go here for a description of and link to the Howard Nemerov Papers at Washington University as well as other Nemerov resources.

Modern Literature Collection: The First Fifty Years

Howard Nemerov