Bly, Robert,1926–, American writer, translator, editor, and publisher, b. Madison, Minn., grad. Harvard, 1950. His poems, personal and precisely observant, are informed by the American landscape; a number also reflect his fierce opposition to the Vietnam War. Among his volumes of poetry are The Light Around the Body (1967), Sleepers Joining Hands (1972), The Man in the Black Coat Turns (1981), and Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (1985). His Collected Poems were published in 2018. As head of the Sixties Press he printed unconventional poetry and translations from lesser-known foreign poets. Beginning in the 1980s Bly was active in the "men's movement," concerned with establishing a new idea of masculinity in contemporary society. In his best-selling nonfiction work Iron John (1990), Bly traces various passages from boyhood to manhood and urges men to explore their relations to their fathers and to discover their primitive masculinity. The Sibling Society (1996) and The Maiden King (1998, with M. Woodman) build on the social criticism of Iron John.
See studies by R. P. Sugg (1986) and W. V. Davis (1989).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
Bly, Robert (Elwood)(1926– ) poet, writer; born in Madison, Minn. He studied at St. Olaf College, Minn. (1946–47), Harvard (B.A. 1950), University of Iowa (M.A. 1956), eventually settling in Moose Lake, Minn. He was a magazine founder and editor, and is known for translations as well as for his own poetry. His Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a controversial work propounding his views on the need for modern men to rediscover their essential maleness, unexpectedly if temporarily turned Bly into a cross between a minstrel and a guru as he toured the land strumming his harp and explaining his ideas.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.