Robert Bly


November 30, 2021

Robert Bly, born December 23, 1926 in Talking Lake County, Minnesota, and died November 21, 2021 in Minneapolis, is a writer, poet, translator, publisher and activist of the American mythopoetic movement. He was the first Minnesota Poet Laureate.


Born December 23, 1926 in Madison, western Minnesota, Robert Bly grew up in a Norwegian immigrant farming community. After his secondary studies, in 1944 he joined the Navy. In 1946, he was discharged and enrolled at Saint Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Robert Bly remains in this region, with his wife and three children, living as a farmer, while pursuing activities as a translator, editor, and above all a writer. A poet writer first, inspired by American landscapes, and passionate about tales and mythology. He also engages, taking a stand against the Vietnam War, and later against the Gulf War [ref. desired]. Interested in the work of Joseph Campbell from 1975, he became involved from 1980 in the nascent “Men’s Movement”, leading conferences, participating in gatherings of the “mythopoetic” group. An article by Keith Thompson entitled What men really want, which appeared in New Age magazine in May 1982, was particularly noted [secondary source needed]. In 1984, he founded the Minnesota Men's Conference, which is still operating in 2021 and which has hosted interventions from authors such as Michael Meade, Robert L. Moore, Orland Bishop, James Hillman, Aaron Kipnis, or again Lewis Hyde. He appeared in 1989 alongside Michael Meade in On being a man, a documentary produced by John Whitehead,. On January 8, 1990, a 90-minute interview between Robert Bly and journalist Bill Moyers was broadcast on the PBS public service television station A Gathering of Men. This activity culminated in 1990, with the publication of an essay, Iron John (Jean de Fer - his only work translated into French, under the title L’homme sauvage et l'Enfant), which was widely distributed internationally. This success gives him, without his having sought it, the image of a leader [ref. necessary]. Groups inspired by his words are multiplying in the United States, then in most developed countries, and some have established lasting roots, such as the Mankind Project. In 1996, he published The Sibling Society, where he stigmatized the behavior of eternal adolescents of contemporary adults, explaining it by the absence of assertive parental figures. In 1998, The Maiden King, written with Marion Woodman, explores the process of male and female development in men, based on Russian tales. His daughter Mary Bly, professor of literature at Fordham University, writes blockbuster historical romances under the name Eloisa James. Robert Bly spent his last years on a farm in Minnesota with his wife and their three children.


His very first collection of poems was published in 1962 "Silence in the Snowy Fields". His largely pictorial and metaphorical style had a considerable influence on American verse until the 1980s. The following year he published A Wrong Turning in American Poetry, an essay in which he downgrades the importance of various authors such as Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore or William Carlos Williams whom he opposes to writers like Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejo, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Antonio Machado and Rainer Maria Rilke. During the sixties, he positioned himself in favor of the Bengali poets of the angry generation (Hungryalists) who faced the attempt to Indianize their culture in Calcutta. In 1966, Bly cofon

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