Tate was still a graduate student at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1967 when his collection The Lost Pilot was chosen for publication in the influential Yale Series of Younger Poets. During a career that spanned nearly 50 years and more than 20 books, he won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.
|The Lost Pilot|
by James Tate
(Yale University Press, 1967)
Friends and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Tate taught for more than 40 years, remember him here. A highly recommended 2006 Paris Review interview with Tate, conducted by Charles Simic, includes this memorable statement of his artistic creed:
I love my funny poems, but I’d rather break your heart. And if I can do both in the same poem, that’s the best. If you laughed earlier in the poem, and I bring you close to tears in the end, that’s the best. That’s most rewarding for you and for me too. I want ultimately to be serious, but I can’t help the comic part. It just comes automatically. And if I can do both, that’s what I’m after.Tate’s seventeenth collection of poems, Dome of the Hidden Pavilion, will be published in August.