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 John Allyn Berryman

John Allyn Berryman

Birth
McAlester, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, USA
Death 7 Jan 1972 (aged 57)
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
Burial Mendota Heights, Dakota County, Minnesota, USA
Plot Section 60, Block 34, Grave 107
Memorial ID 90 · View Source
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American Confessional Poet, Pulitzer Prize Winner. He is best known for his poetic works "The Dream Songs," which often revolved around the sordid details of his personal problems. Born John Allyn Smith in McAlester, Oklahoma, his father was a banker and his mother a schoolteacher. When he was 10, his family moved to Tampa, Florida, and his father committed suicide two years later. The tragic event would haunt him for the rest of his life. His mother remarried another banker whose last name was Berryman and they moved to New York City, New York, and he took his stepfather's surname. He attended the South Kent Boarding School in South Kent, Connecticut, and enrolled at Columbia College (now Columbia University) in New York City, New York, where he studied under literary scholar Mark Van Doren. While at Columbia, he was awarded a Kellett Fellowship and studied overseas at Clare College in Cambridge, England for two years. After graduating from Columbia in 1936, he began publishing his poetic works, with "Poems" (1942), and "The Dispossessed" (1948). In 1950 he published a biography of the fiction writer Stephen Crane, which was followed by his next book of poems "Homage to Mistress Bradstreet" (1956), his first major work which brought him relative success. He taught or lectured at a number of universities including University of Iowa, Harvard, Princeton, University of Cincinnati, and the University of Minnesota, where he spent the majority of his career, except for his sabbatical in 1962 through 1963 where he taught at Brown University. His poetic breakthrough came in 1964 with the publication of "77 Dream Songs," which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1965 and solidified his standing as one of the most important poets of the post-World War II generation. In 1967 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1968 he published his sequel to "77 Dream Songs" called "His Toy, His Dream, His Rest," which won the National Book Award for Poetry and the Bollinger Prize. In 1969 he republished "77 Dream Songs" and "His Toy, His Dream, His Rest" into one book called "The Dream Songs." His last two volumes of poetry, "Love and Fame" (1970) and "Delusions, Etc." (1972), which were considered by some to be inferior to his poems in "The Dream Songs" because of their straight-forwardness and less idiosyncratic. He lived a turbulent life, having been married and divorced three times, and he suffered from alcohol abuse as he struggled with his depression, which ultimately led to his suicide in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when he jumped from the Washington Avenue Bridge into the Mississippi River.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 90
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Allyn Berryman (25 Oct 1914–7 Jan 1972), Find A Grave Memorial no. 90, citing Resurrection Cemetery, Mendota Heights, Dakota County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .