Mona Van Duyn: Poet Luareate for the United States from 1992-1993

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Mona Van Duyn was born in Iowa, and grew up in Eldora, which had a population of just 3,200. There, she learned to read and pursued the discipline vigorously. She earned her B.A. in 1942 f4rom the Iowa State Teacher’s College, and an M.A. from Iowa University one year later.

In 1946, Van Duyn took a job at the University of Louisville, where her husband was an assistant professor. She became an instructor, and taught literature. Together with her husband, the two published Perspective: a Quarterly on Literature and the Arts beginning in 1947. When she moved to Washington University in St. Louis, she took the journal with her.

Van Duyn was a gifted poet, winning nearly every major US prize for poetry by the time of her death, including the National Book Aware. She also won an award for her book To See To Take, the Bollingen Prize in 1971, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 1989, and the Pulizer for her work in 1991. She also became the US Poet Laureate, a title given to talented writers for the purpose of composing poetry for memorable events.

She had complex ideas on love and marriage, ranging from the sarcastic and scathing to the optimistic. She also became a fellow at the Academy of American Poets, one of twelve chancellors who held their post for life. She passed away in December of 2004 at the age of 83, at her home in Universal City, Missouri.


About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Facebook.

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