Get Your Premium Membership

Louise Bogan Biography | Poet

Photo of Louise Bogan

Louise Bogan (August 11, 1897 - 1970) was an American poet. She was born in Livermore Falls, Maine, and spent one year at Boston University. In 1916 she left the university to marry Curt Alexander, but he died in 1919. After her first husband's death, she moved with her daughter to New York City to pursue a career in writing. In 1925 she married the poet Raymond Holden, but they were divorced in 1937.

Bogan had poetry published in the The New Republic, the Nation, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Scribner's and Atlantic Monthly. She was the poetry reviewer of The New Yorker from 1931 until 1969, when she retired. She was a strong supporter of the poet Theodore Roethke.

In a letter to Edmund Wilson, she detailed a raucous affair that she and the yet-unpublished Roethke carried on in 1935, during the time between his expulsion from Lafayette College and his return to Michigan. At the time she seemed little impressed by what she called his "very, very small lyrics"; she seems to have viewed the affair as, at most, a possible source for her own work (see What the Woman Lived: Collected letters of Louise Bogan).

Because Bogan refused to discuss herself (and disdained such confessional poets as Robert Lowell and John Berryman), little is known of her personal life. Most of her work was published before 1938. This includes Body of This Death (1923), Dark Summer (1929) and The Sleeping Fury (1937). She also translated works by Ernst Jünger, Goethe, and Jules Renard. A volume of her collected works, The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968, was published late in her life. She died in New York City in 1970. A number of autobiographical pieces were published posthumously in Journey around My Room (1980). Elizabeth Frank's biography of Louise Bogan, "Louise Bogan: A Portrait", won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986.

Ruth Anderson's sound poem I Come Out of Your Sleep (revised and recorded on Sinopah 1997 XI) is constructed from speech sounds in Bogan's poem Little Lobelia.

Louise Bogan: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes

Book: Reflection on the Important Things