Thomson William “Thom” Gunn

Thomson William “Thom” Gunn

Birth
Gravesend, Gravesham Borough, Kent, England
Death 25 Apr 2004 (aged 74)
Western Addition, San Francisco County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 67925939 · View Source
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Anglo-American Poet. Both of his parents were journalists. They divorced when he was only nine. His mother was the person who inspired him to read, which he did voraciously. Six years later, Gunn found his dead mother who had committed suicide. He served in the British Army from 1948 to 1950. After military service, he moved to Paris for a year and began to write seriously. He then attended Trinity College in Cambridge, where he studied poetry writing and form. He emigrated to the United States in 1954 to teach writing at Stanford University. It was at that time that Gunn came out as an openly gay man, something he could have easily kept to himself. In 1958 Gunn began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, a position he held for most of the next 3 decades. His poems are among the best examples of "The Movement" in literature. Bold in their exploration of being an openly gay man, drugs, the bohemian lifestyle and AIDS. Though he remained HIV negative throughout his life, the disease and it's effect on his community, affected him greatly. The Man With Night Sweats (1992) is arguably his best known work, along with Jack Straw's Castle (1976) and The Passages of Joy (1980). He found inspiration in his works from the community in San Francisco in the early days of the gay rights movement of the 70s and with the tragedy that AIDS took in the gay community during the 80s. He was awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature, the Levinson Prize, the Arts Council of Great Britain Award, the Rockefeller Award, W.H. Smith Award, the P.E.N. Prize for Poetry, the Sara Teasdale Prize, Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, the Forward Prize, and fellowships from both the Guggenheim Foundation and MacArthur foundation. His companion of 52 years was Mike Kitay, who he met while still in college. Sadly, Gunn died in his sleep at their Cole Street home in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. From his poem "Tamer and Hawk" Gunn wrote: "Even in flight above, I am no longer free: You sealed me with your love, I am blind to other birds- The habit of your words. Has hooded me..." The "Thom Gunn Papers", which consists of his correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, notebooks of poetry and prose, writings, professional papers, teaching materials, writings by other poets and authors, and his collection of alternative gay newspapers are in the collection of the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley.

Bio by: Christian


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Christian
  • Added: 5 Apr 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 67925939
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Thomson William “Thom” Gunn (29 Aug 1929–25 Apr 2004), Find A Grave Memorial no. 67925939, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.