Poetry Everywhere
"I was chasing this blue butterfly down the road..."

James Tate

The Search for Lost Lives

James Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1943. His first poetry collection, The Lost Pilot, was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1967, while he was still a student at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Since then, Tate has established a singular territory of American surrealism in his work; John Ashbery has said, "Tate is the poet of possibilities, of morph, of suprising consequences, lovely or disastrous, and these phenomena exist everywhere." In the poem "The Search for Lost Lives," Tate combines his now-trademark colloquial conversational bits with transformative imagery. Eschewing logical connections, Tate has said that his poems develop through "[i]ntuitive, deep character. I want my characters to be discovering something worhtwhhile, someting surprising, something not such a given." His awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Wallace Stevens Awards, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. In 2001 he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he lives with his wife, the poet Dara Wier. This animation was created by Steven Wells, and Tate reads.

To read this and other poems by James Tate, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.