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James Tate Biography | Author of Smart and Final Iris

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James Vincent Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1943, in the middle of World War II. Tate's father, Samuel Vincent Appleby, was a pilot who was reported missing in action while on a bombing run over Germany in his B-17. Tate, who never met his father, was raised by his mother, Betty Jean Whitsitt. The title piece of his prizewinning Yale Younger Poets collection of poems, The Lost Pilot (1967), captures the poet's sense of the loss of his dead father. Themes of loss, absence, and imminent catastrophe pervade much of Tate's work. Tate is also fascinated with war, which he explores in "Smart and Final Iris," "Land of Little Sticks, 1945," and other poems.

Tate began writing poetry at 17, often composing in a trance-like state. Though he read and admired modernist poets William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens, Tate maintains that neither influenced him, and that it is...

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This section contains 447 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Smart and Final Iris Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Smart and Final Iris from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.