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Raymond Carver Biography | Poet

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Raymond Carver was an American short-story writer and poet published only a handful of books in his lifetime and he is often considered one of the great American short story writers. His stories mainly take place in his native Pacific Northwest region; this environment had an ineffaceable effect upon his character and his writing about the working poor also told a touching story about his own personal life experience. Raymond Carver, in full Raymond Clevie was born in Oregon on May 25, 1938. He passed away on Aug. 2, 1988, Port Angeles. He grew up in Yakima, Washington, where his father was a sawmill worker. Raymond enjoyed hunting and fishing.

Writing Career

Carver education background dates back from the time he was in local schools in Yakima, Washington where at an early age he was drawn to literature and the art of writing. Raymond became interested in writing in California, when his parents moved to California for work. He took creative-writing course at Chico State College in 1958. He later furthered his education at the Humboldt State College and finally received his Bachelor’s degree in 1963. His mentor John Gardner influenced him. Carver's passion for writing was intense, His stories began to be accepted by small magazines, and his first short story piece "Furious Seasons" in particular gained notice and was published in 1961. During this time, he worked as a writer with a literary magazine ‘Toyon’. He wrote many articles for it under pseudonyms.

Carver relocated again to the West Coast where he took some more classes from the then Sacramento State College. Financial troubles continued to haunt Raymond during the 1960’s that he even worked hard to earn money for which he even worked as a janitor at a hospital along his writing job during free time. This was quite a difficult phase of life that he had to go through. At Sacramento, he got the chance of coming face to face with the poet Dennis Schmitz who became a good friend. He helped him publish his first book of poem named ‘Near Klamath’. He later published the one short story ‘will you please be quiet, please?’ in 1967 anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 1967.

Following the death of his father, Raymond moved once again to California where he had gotten a job for Science Research Associates as a textbook editor. This move became an important breakthrough as he established connections with Gordon Lish and the poet publisher George Hitchcock during this period. In 1970, he lost his job; this year marked the start of his downfall in writing. He became alcoholic, and this greatly influenced his abilities as a writer. After going for rehabilitation and conquering his drinking problem in the late 1970s, he taught for several years at the University of Texas at El Paso and at Syracuse University.

Since then he became sober and committed and in 1983 won a literary award that made him concentrate on his writing full-time. Raymond published another collection ‘What We Talk about When We Talk About Love’ in 1981, ‘Cathedral’ (1984), and ‘Where I’m Calling From ‘(1988). Even though short stories are what made him known as a writer, he also wrote extensively as a poet. A collection of his poetry, including ‘At Night the Salmon Move’ (1976), ‘Where Water Comes Together with Other Water’ (1985), and ‘Ultramarine’ (1986).

Personal Life and Death

At the age of nineteen, Raymond married his teenage sweetheart, Maryann who would define much of Carver's life. Within two years of marriage, they had had two children, Christine and Vance. Parenting, he later said, was a responsibility for which he was much unprepared. He was torn between the desire to become a writer and the need to support his family. Maryann and Raymond had struggled together so long that they found themselves in a co-dependent, abusive relationship that neither had the means to separate.

In 1977, Carver got an opportunity to meet Tess Gallagher, a poet, at a conference in Dallas Texas; a get together which later culminated to intimacy and then a marriage union in 1988. Together, Raymond and Gallagher remained active ensuring his legacy would survive, through both public exposure and publications of collections and other re-prints. The two lived together in Texas. Raymond passed away one and a half months after his wedding in Port Angeles as a result of lung cancer. Raymond was fifty years old at the time of his death. Years later, his work is still considered by many writers. 

Raymond Carver: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes