James Tate

James Tate. Courtesy the Poetry Foundation.

James Tate
Born James Vincent Tate
8, 1943 (1943-12-08) (age 76)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Occupation Poet, academic
Notable work(s) Worshipful Company of Fletchers
Notable award(s) National Book Award 1994, Pulitzer Prize 1992

James Vincent Tate (December 8, 1943 - July 8, 2015) was an American poet and academic, whose poetry earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.


Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri.

He earned a B.A. from Kansas State University in 1965, and then an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in their famed Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Tate has taught creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. For more than 30 years he was a long-time professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he has worked since 1971.[1][2][3] [1]

He was also a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.[4] and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[1]

He was married to poet Dara Wier.


Tate's writing style is often described as surrealist, comic, and absurdist.[5][6] His work has captivated other poets as diverse as John Ashbery and Dana Gioia.[7][8] Regarding his own work, Tate has said, "My characters usually are—or, I’d say most often, I don’t want to generalize too much—but most often they’re in trouble, and they’re trying to find some kind of life." [5] This view is supported by the poet Tony Hoagland's observation that, "His work of late has been in prose poems, in which his picaresque speaker or characters are spinning through life, inquisitive and clueless as Candide, trying to identify and get with the fiction of whatever world they are in."[9]


Dudley Fitts selected The Lost Pilot (1967) for the Yale Series of Younger Poets while Tate was still a student at the Iowa Writers' Workshop; Fitts praised Tate's writing for its "natural grace."

Tate won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry[10] and the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award in 1991 for his Selected Poems.

In 1994, he won the National Book Award for his poetry collection, Worshipful Company of Fletchers.[11]

Additional awards include a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

He ialso served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.[12]

Tate was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004;[1]




  • The Lost Pilot. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1967; New York: Ecco Press, 1978.
  • The Oblivion Ha-Ha. Boston: Little, Brown 1970.
  • Hints to Pilgrims. Halty Ferguson, 1971; Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982.
  • Absences: New Poems. Boston: Little, Brown, 1972; Pittsburgh. PA: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1990.
  • Viper Jazz. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1976.
  • Riven Doggeries. New York: Ecco Press, 1979.
  • Constant DefenderNew York: Ecco Press, 1983.
  • Reckoner. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1986.
  • Distance from Loved Ones. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England for Wesleyan University Press, 1990.
  • Selected Poems. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press; Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1991; Manchester, England, UK: Carcanet, 1997.
  • Worshipful Company of Fletchers. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1994.
  • Shroud of the Gnome. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1997.
  • Memoir of the Hawk. New York: Ecco Press, 2001.
  • Return to the City of White Donkeys. New York: Ecco Press, 2004.
  • Ghost Soldiers. New York: Ecco Press, 2008.
  • The Eternal Ones of the Dream: Selected poems, 1970-2010. New York: Ecco Press, 2012.


  • Cages. Iowa City, IA: Shepherd's Press, 1966.
  • Finding Out Something in a Cafe. Iowa City, IA: Shepherd's Press, 1966.
  • Notes of Woe. Iowa City, IA: Stone Wall Press, 1968.
  • Mystics in Chicago. Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1968.
  • Outlaws in Andover. Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1968.
  • The Torches (by James Tate; Noel Young; Alan Brilliant). Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1968.
  • Jim's All-Night Diner. Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1968.
  • Row with Your Hair. San Francisco, CA: Kayak Books, 1969.
  • Shepherds of the Mist. Los Angeles, CA: Black Sparrow Press, 1969.
  • The Immortals. Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1970.
  • Wrong Songs. Cambridge, MA: Halty Ferguson, 1970.
  • Are You Ready, Mary Baker Eddy??? (with Bill Knott). Berkeley, CA: Cloud Marauder Press, 1970.
  • Here lies James Tate. Ithaca, NY: Angelfish Press, [1970?]
  • Amnesia People. Girard, KS: Little Balkans Press, 1970.
  • Nobody Goes to Visit the Insane Anymore. Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1971.
  • Apology for Eating Geoffrey Movius’ Hyacinth. Santa Barbara, CA: Unicorn Press, 1972.
  • The Door. Binghamton, NY: Bellevue Press, 1975.
  • Who Gets the Bitterroot? Derry, PA: Rook Press, 1976.
  • The Rustling of Foliage, the Memories of Caresses. Amherst, MA: Massachusetts Review, 1979.
  • It Would All Please Hurry: A poem (with Stephen Riley). Amherst, MA: Shanachie Press, 1980.
  • The Plaza. Worcester MA: Metacom Press, 1981.
  • Land of Little Sticks. Worcester, MA: Metacom Press, 1981.
  • My Nephew's Hotels. Emory, VA: Iron Mountain Press, 1982.
  • Just Shades (illustrated by John Alcorn). University, AL: Parallel Editions, 1985.
  • Bewitched: Four poems (pirated in a way) from the works of James Tate. Iowa City, IA: Windhover Press, 1989.
  • Police Story. Minneapolis, MN: Rain Taxi, 1999.
  • Shiloh (with Amy Rohan). Chicago: Poetry Center of Chicago, 2001.
  • Lost River. Louisville, KY: Sarabande Books, 2003.


  • Lucky Darryl (with Bill Knott). Brooklyn, NY: Release Press, 1977.

Short fictionEdit

  • Hottentot Ossuary. Cambridge, MA: Temple Bar Bookshop, 1974.
  • Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee: 44 stories. Amherst, MA: Verse Press, 2002.

Collected editionsEdit

  • The Route as Briefed. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999.


The Best American Poetry 1997 (edite with David Lehman). New York: Scribner Poetry, 1997.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[14]

Distance from Loved Ones by James Tate

Distance from Loved Ones by James Tate


Tate's work has been included in The Best American Poetry series multiple times, including 2010, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1991, 1990, and 1988; his work was also in the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry.

See alsoEdit


Notes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 James Tate elected to American Academy of Arts and Letters, a April 29, 2004 article from University of Massachusetts Amherst
  2. James Tate,, Academy of American Poets. Web.
  3. Wave Books > Author Page > James Tate
  4. University of Massachusetts' MFA Program for Poets & Writers > James Tate Bio
  5. 5.0 5.1 Poetry Foundation article on Tate
  6. Ellman, Richard and Robert O'Clair.The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, Second edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988.
  7. Tate, James. Selected Poems. Blurb.
  9. Hoagland, Tony. "Recognition, Vertigo, and Passionate Worldliness." Poetry Magazine.[1]
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Poetry". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "National Book Awards – 1994". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  12. University of Massachusetts' MFA Program for Poets & Writers > James Tate Bio
  13. John Ashbery on James Tate from the Academy of American Poets
  14. Search results=James Tate, WorldCat, Web, July 15, 2012.

External linksEdit

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