Robert Bly was born in western Minnesota in 1926 to parents
of Norwegian stock. He enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and
spent two years there. After one year at St. Olaf College
in Minnesota, he transferred to Harvard and thereby joined
the famous group of writers who were undergraduates at that
time, which included Donald Hall, Adrienne Rich, Kenneth
Koch, John Ashbery, Harold Brodky, George Plimpton, and
John Hawkes. He graduated in 1950 and spent the next few
years in New York living, as they say, hand to mouth.
in 1954, he took two years at the University of Iowa at
the Writers Workshop along with W. D. Snodgrass, Donald
Justice, and others. In 1956 he received a Fulbright grant
to travel to Norway and translate Norwegian poetry into
English. While there he found not only his relatives but
the work of a number of major poets whose force was not
present in the United States, among them Pablo Neruda, Cesar
Vallejo, Gunnar Ekelof, Georg Trakl and Harry Martinson.
He determined then to start a literary magazine for poetry
translation in the United States and so begin The Fifties
and The Sixties and The Seventies, which introduced many
of these poets to the writers of his generation, and published
as well essays on American poets and insults to those deserving.
During this time he lived on a farm in Minnesota with his
wife and children.
1966 he co-founded American Writers Against the Vietnam
War and led much of the opposition among writers to that
war. When he won the National Book Award for The Light Around
the Body, he contributed the prize money to the Resistance.
During the 70s he published eleven books of poetry, essays,
and translations, celebrating the power of myth, Indian
ecstatic poetry, meditation, and storytelling. During the
80s he published Loving a Woman in Two Worlds, The Wingéd
Life: Selected Poems and Prose of Thoreau,The Man in the
Black Coat Turns, and A Little Book on the Human Shadow.
John: A Book About Men is an international bestseller
which has been translated into many languages. He frequently
does workshops for men with James Hillman and others, and
workshops for men and women with Marion Woodman. He and
his wife Ruth, along with the storyteller Gioia Timpanelli,
frequently conduct seminars on European fairy tales. In
the early 90s, with James Hillman and Michael Meade, he
edited The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, an anthology
of poems from the men's work. Since then he has edited The
Darkness Around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford,
and The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy, a collection of sacred
poetry from many cultures.
books of poetry include What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?
Collected Prose Poems and Meditations on the Insatiable
Soul, both published by Harper Collins. His second large
prose book, The Sibling Society, published by Addison-Wesley
in hardcover and Vintage in paperback, is the subject of
nation-wide discussion. His collection, Morning Poems (Harper
Collins), named for William Staffords practice of
writing a poem each morning, revisits the western Minnesota
farm country of Blys boyhood with marvelous wit and
warmth. He has recently published The Maiden King: The Reunion
of Masculine and Feminine (Henry Holt) in collaboration
with Marion Woodman. His new selected poems, Eating the
Honey of Words, has recently appeared from Harper Flamingo,
as well as his translations of Ghalib, The Lightning Should
Have Fallen on Ghalib (with Sunil Dutta) from Ecco Press.
He has also edited the prestigious Best American Poetry