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Van Duyn, Mona (Jane) 1921-2004

Van DUYN, Mona (Jane) 1921-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born May 9, 1921, in Waterloo, IA; died of bone cancer December 2, 2004, in St. Louis, MO. Educator and writer. Van Duyn was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and the first woman to be named poet laureate of the United States. She earned a B.A. at what is now the University of Northern Iowa in 1942, before attending the writing program at the University of Iowa, where she completed a master's degree in 1943. Van Duyn then embarked on a teaching career, first as an English instructor at the State University of Iowa, then as a teacher at the University of Louisville during the late 1940s. From 1950 until 1967, she was a lecturer in English at Washington University in St. Louis. As a poet, Van Duyn was never a prolific author, but the quality of her work was rarely questioned. In addition to her Pulitzer, which she received in 1991 for the collection Near Changes, she earned the National Book Award for Poetry in 1971 for To See, to Take,, the Sandburg Prize from Cornell College, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America for her body of work, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, among many other honors. She served as poet laureate of the United States from 1992 to 1993. Often writing about ordinary experiences of life, she was sometimes labeled a "domestic poet," though many felt she transcended such limited classifications. Van Duyn also struggled with depression throughout her life, but she did not focused on her illness in her writing. Among her other collections are A Time of Bees (1964), Letters from a Father, and Other Poems (1982), and Selected Poems (2002).



Chicago Tribune, December 4, 2004, section 2, p. 11.

New York Times, December 4, 2004, p. A15.

Washington Post, December 4, 2004, p. B6.

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