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					                                             Allen Tate
                                                      By CARISSA CULKIN
                                  Allen Tate was born John Orly Allen Tate in Winchester,
                             Kentucky, on November 19, 1899, to parents John Orly Tate and
                             Eleanor Varnell Tate. Because of his father’s precarious financial
                             problems, Tate grew up in an unstable environment. His family
                             moved around and they had to sell pieces of inherited land to
                             make ends meet (University of Tennessee). As Tate later recalled,
                             “We might as well have been living, and I been born, in a tavern
                             at a crossroads.” By 1911 his father’s business ventures and his
                             parents’ marriage had failed. The youngest of three boys by
    1899 ~ 1979              almost ten years, Tate found himself in “perpetual motion” with
                             his mother, a native Virginian whose family seat in Fairfax County



 “
                             later became the “Pleasant Hill” of Tate’s only novel, The Fathers
     In a manner             (Modern American Poetry).
   of speaking, the               From 1916 to 1917 Tate studied the violin at the Cincinnati
   poem is its own           Conservatory of Music. Tate once said that by not fulfilling his
   knower, neither           dream of pursuing a career in music was “the death of youth”
   poet nor reader           (Modern American Poetry). He began attending Vanderbilt
  knowing anything           University in 1918 where he met fellow poet Robert Penn Warren.
                             Warren and Tate were invited to join a group of young Southern
 that the poem says
    apart from the
       words of
                         “   poets known as the Fugitives, and later the Southern Agrarians,
                             under the leadership of John Crowe Ransom. He contributed to
                             the group’s magazine, The Fugitive, and to the agrarian manifesto
      the poem.              I’ll Take My Stand published in 1930.
                                  A brush with tuberculosis forced Tate to withdraw from
                             Vanderbilt in 1922. After months of recuperation in the mountains
                             of North Carolina, he returned to the university in 1923. With a
                             diploma dated 1922, Tate received his bachelor’s degree from the
                             University in 1923 (Modern American Poetry).
                                  In 1924 Tate married Caroline Gordon, a fellow writer, the
                             end of that year. The couple moved to New York City, both
                             determined to become professional writers. There he undertook,
                             but failed to complete, a biography of Robert E. Lee and a memoir
                             about his own ancestors (Southern Literary Journal). Tate was
                             subjected to, and also perpetuated, fictional interpretations of his
                             ancestry. He alternately abandoned and championed Southern
                             culture. Viewing himself as an orphan from a region where family
                             history is identity, he developed a curious blend of spiritual
                             loneliness and ideological assuredness. His greatest challenge was




Literary
                             transforming his troubled genealogy into a meaningful statement
   Tennessee                 about himself and Southern culture as a whole (Princeton
                             University Press).
                                  Tate could not finish either project and his inability to meet a
                             publisher’s deadline for his biography of Robert E. Lee led him in
Project •• MTSU              1931 to enlist both Gordon and Warren as ghostwriters. Eventually
www.mtsu.edu/tnlitproj
                           he abandoned the project. A Guggenheim Fellowship in 1928 took
                           Tate abroad--to London—where he met Eliot, and to Paris, where
  Allen Tate               he took tea with Gertrude Stein, established a friendship with
   Selected                Ernest Hemingway, and cemented his relationships with Ford and
                           Bishop (Modern American Poetry).
 Bibliography                  In 1930 Tate returned to the United States. His works
       POETRY              published immediately after his time in Europe were mainly
  Poems, 1928-1931         essays, many of which were included in the I’ll Take My Stand
         (1932)            (1930) in which Tate defended the Southern United States’
                           traditionally agricultural economy.
  The Mediterranean
                               Tate became a poet in residence at Princeton, where he
 & Other Poems (1936)
                           remained until 1942. In 1943 he became the consultant in poetry
Selected Poems (1937)
                           at the Library of Congress, in 1944 the editor of the Sewanee
 The Winter Sea (1944)     Review, and in 1946 editor of belle lettres at Henry Holt in New
  Poems, 1920-1945         York. In 1948 he served on the jury that awarded, in February
         (1947)            1949, the controversial first Bollingen Prize to Ezra Pound for
  Poems, 1922-1947         his Pisan Cantos. Tate resumed his academic career in 1948 when
         (1948)            he accepted a three-year appointment at New York University
 Two Conceits for the      (Modern American Poetry). In 1951 he accepted an academic
Eye to Sing, If Possible   appointment with tenure at the University of Minnesota, where
         (1950)            he remained until his retirement in 1968. During the 1950s, often
 Poems (1960 & 1961)       through an association with the new Fulbright program, he gave
The Swimmers & Other       frequent lectures abroad in England, France, Italy, and India.
Selected Poems (1970)          The last twenty years of Tate’s life witnessed his divorce from
   Mr. Pope & Other        Gordon in 1959, his marriage also in 1959 to the poet Isabella
     Poems (1970)          Gardner, and his divorce from her and marriage to Helen Heinz,
   The Swimmers &          his former student at Minnesota, in 1966. In 1967 he became the
Other Selected Poems       father of twin sons, one of whom died in an accident in 1968 after
         (1971)            the family’s move to Sewanee, Tennessee. A third son was born
        PROSE              in 1969 (Modern American Poetry) and ten years later Allen Tate
                           died in Nashville.
  The Fathers (1938)
  Reason in Madness
         (1941)
    On the Limits of
   Poetry: Selected
  Essays, 1928-1948
         (1948)
   The Hovering Fly
         (1949)
  The Forlorn Demon
         (1953)
   Collected Essays
         (1959)
    Essays of Four
    Decades (1959)
 Memoirs & Opinions,
   1926-1974 (1975)

                                           Allen Tate’s grave, Sewanee Cemetery

				
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