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Jack Gilbert is a major figure in American poetry, but has always been a total outsider, defiantly unfashionable and publishing only four books in five decades. Initially associated with the Beats, he left America after winning the Yale Younger Poets Prize with "Views of Jeopardy" in 1962, eking out a living for many years on Greek islands. His second collection, "Monolithos", appeared twenty years later in 1982, but he made his strongest impression on American readers with the late work published in his last two books, "The Great Fires" (1994) and "Refusing Heaven" (2005), winner of the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award.
Jack Gilbert was born in 1925 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was educated in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, where he later participated in Jack Spicer's famous 'Poetry as Magic' Workshop at San Francisco State College in 1957. He has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Monolithos won of the Stanley Kunitz Prize and the American Poetry Review Prize. Views of Jeopardy, Monolithos and Refusing Heaven were all nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and Refusing Heaven was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Gilbert was the 1999-2000 Grace Hazard Conkling writer-in-residence at Smith College and a visiting professor and writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee in 2004. He lives in western Massachusetts.