Poet Robert Bly has died at the age of 94, the New York Times reports.
The Minnesota native was known for his poetry collections, translations of poetry, and works of nonfiction—more than 50 in total. He first captured public attention in the 1960s when he published poems opposing the Vietnam War and toured the country to support the antiwar movement; in 1966 he founded American Writers Against the Vietnam War. He won the National Book Award for poetry for his 1967 collection, The Light Around the Body.
Bly achieved mainstream celebrity with the publication of his 1990 nonfiction book, Iron John: A Book About Men, an exploration of traditional male roles through myth, fairy tale, poetry, and psychology. The book was an international bestseller, becoming the bible of the so-called “men’s movement.” Bly himself hosted men’s workshops, often held in the woods, which might feature drumming or poetry readings.
Bly continued to write into his 80s and 90s. Among his nonfiction books were The Sibling Society (1996) and More Than True: The Wisdom of Fairy Tales (2018). A Kirkus critic called the latter book a collection of “idiosyncratic readings by a generous, gifted writer who asks his readers to be open to a story’s poetry, its ‘light by which we may see life.’” A volume of Bly’s Collected Poems, spanning more than 60 years of his work, was published in late 2018.
Bly had four children from his first marriage, including Mary Bly, who writes successful romance fiction under the pen name Eloisa James.
On Twitter, writers and other fans paid tribute to Bly and shared lines of his verse. Poet Michael Bazzett quoted the poem “The Moon”: “After writing poems all day, / I go off to see the moon in the pines. / Far in the woods I sit down against a pine. / The moon has her porches turned to face the light, / But the deep part of her house is in the darkness.
After writing poems all day,— Michael Bazzett (@MikhailBazharov) November 22, 2021
I go off to see the moon in the pines.
Far in the woods I sit down against a pine.
The moon has her porches turned to face the light,
But the deep part of her house is in the darkness.
Rest in peace....
And poet Daisy Fried wrote “RIP Robert Bly. One of the great ones,” quoting his poem “The Sympathies of the Long Married”: “It’s all right if we’re troubled by the night. / It’s all right if we can’t recall our own name. / It’s all right if this rough music keeps on playing.”
"It's all right if we're troubled by the night.— Daisy Fried (@DaisyFried) November 22, 2021
It's all right if we can't recall our own name.
It's all right if this rough music keeps on playing."
RIP Robert Bly.
One of the great ones.
Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief.