Tag Archives: Mark Van Doren

Remembering Mark Van Doren

10 Dec

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Mark Van Doren passed away on this day in 1972, at the age of seventy-eight. Originally from Illinois, Van Doren worked for many years at Columbia University, at one point testifying on Allen Ginsberg’s behalf to keep the young poet from going to jail. Two days before his death, Van Doren underwent surgery at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital for circulatory problems. He is buried at Cornwall Hollow Cemetery in Connecticut.

 

 

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Happy 99th Birthday, Robert Lax!

30 Nov

circus

Robert Lax was born on this day in 1915 in Olean, in the Southern Tier region of New York.

Lax studied poetry with Mark Van Doren at Columbia University and graduated in 1938, right before Jack Kerouac arrived on campus. Similarly, they both took on a life of wandering. Lax worked for some prestigious magazines — The New Yorker and Time — and then joined the circus as a juggler.

Eventually, he found his way to the Greek island of Patmos. The island is known as a place of pilgrimage, as the apostle John had lived there. Lax himself went on to live here for more than thirty years, living the life of a hermit and writing beautiful poetry.

Kerouac indeed did end up getting in contact with his fellow alum. You can read his letter to him in Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1940-1956.

Happy 120th Birthday, Mark Van Doren

13 Jun

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Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Van Doren was born on this day in Vermilion County, Illinois.

In 1920 he earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University and joined the faculty. Among his students was Lionel Trilling, who would also go on to teach at Columbia. They both taught Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Trilling also taught Robert Lax, whom Kerouac later got in touch with.

Trilling won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1940 for Collected Poems 1922–1938.

Celebrate his birthday by reading some of his sonnets here.