In 1958, a powerful new voice in American poetry emerged from the windswept prairie farmland of western Minnesota. Beginning with publication of The Fifties, “a magazine of poetry, translation and general opinion,” Robert Bly’s transformative poetry, translations, essays, and poetry readings rolled across the country like an invigorating prairie storm.
In his eighty-third year, to celebrate acquisition of his archives, the Elmer L. Andersen Library at the University of Minnesota sponsored a major conference, Robert Bly in This World. This is the record of that historic event. Scholars and authors from America and England presented papers on Bly’s poetry, translations, criticism, mythopoetic storytelling, and other major achievements, including his annual Great Mother and Minnesota Men’s conferences. A trip to Madison, Minnesota, where Bly’s writing studio has been restored and preserved on the Lac Qui Parle County fairgrounds, is also chronicled here, plus intimate appreciations by Bly’s friends and admirers Coleman Barks, Donald Hall, Jane Hirshfield, Lewis Hyde, and others. A vintage documentary on Bly, A Man Writes to a Part of Himself, screened at the conference, is included as a DVD in a supplement to the book.
In Robert Bly’s long career as a poet and translator, he has authored more than forty volumes. His pioneering prose explorations of ancient stories include the international bestseller Iron John. His latest collection of poems, Talking into the Ear of a Donkey, was released in 2011.