Amy Lowell: Poems Background

Amy Lowell: Poems Background

Born in the state of Massachusetts in 1874, Amy Lowell is an important figure in the annals of American poetry. Being the youngest of five children, Lowell and her siblings were born into a well-off family. In fact, in New England the name Lowell held much weight.

From the revolutionary years onward, at any given time a Lowell was guaranteed to hold any important position from religious leader to philanthropist; a member of the family was even made a judge by George Washington.

Famous for her love of a cigar, over the course of her career Lowell is believed to have composed more than 600 poems in a range of styles and voices, such as narrative poetry and poly-vocal prose writing. Much of her verse concentrated on womanhood.

Surprisingly though, Lowell resisted the formal, higher education that was available to a woman of her social class. Only attending school from the ages of ten to seventeen, she instead chose to educate herself through her family's private library and through the resources at the Boston Athenaeum (a library club founded by one of her ancestors).

Working as poet and editor of poetry collections, Lowell was heavily influenced by the Imagist movement, originated and pioneered by her contemporary, Ezra Pound. In later life, she wrote a biography of one of her key literary influences, the English Romantic poet John Keats, and published works of literary criticism.

Although Lowell always had a love for writing, she did not delve into professional writing until she was in her late thirties, when she chose to share her book of poems, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass.

Although sidelined to an extent by history, Lowell's work was rediscovered and has been reassessed in the light of the rise of women's studies and feminist theory. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926, a year after her death at the age of 51, Lowell's work offers fascinating glimpses of life as a woman poet and intellectual writing alongside key names in the Modernist and Imagist movements.

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