Robert Elwood Bly (born December 23, 1926 in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, USA; died November 21, 2021 in Minneapolis) was an American author, translator, and psychologist. His best-known prose book is Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), which remained on The New York Times bestseller list for 62 weeks - over a year - and became a key text for the mythopoetic men's movement. His translations were from languages such as Swedish, Norwegian, German, Spanish, Persian and Urdu.
Life and work
Robert Bly grew up in Lac qui Parle County in Minnesota, in an area nwed strong Norwegian population from the 19th century. He himself had Norwegian ancestry. On the father's side, the family came from Bleie in Hardanger. On the mother's side, the family came from Beitstad in Trøndelag and Lunner on Hadeland.
After graduating from high school in 1944, Bly joined the US Navy, where he remained for two years. He then studied for one year at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. After studying at Harvard and the University of Iowa, Bly was a Fulbright Fellow in Norway to translate Norwegian literature into English.
Bly was the founder and editor of The Fifties magazine, which especially translated poetry. In 1966, he was one of the founders of The American Writers Against the Vietnam War. In the 1960s he was a prominent opponent of the war in Vietnam. Bly has published a large number of works: poetry, many translations from Scandinavian and other languages, prose and non-fiction. He has translated Knut Hamsun, Olav H. Hauge and Tomas Tranströmer into English, among others. Iron John from 1990 (The man in Norwegian translation from 1992) is a book about male psychology that got a lot of attention. Lead became a leading exponent of the mythopoetic men's movement.
His career was also marked by a spiritual vocation, which led to translations by mysterious poets, often Oriental (such as Rumi, Hafez, Kabir and Mirabai), and the anthology The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy. He also corresponded for a long time with his good friend Tranströmer (published as Air mail) who also influenced Bly's view of poetry. There is a kinship between them, clarified even more by their correspondence.
Back in the United States from a stay in Europe, Bly settled on a farm in Minnesota, where he lived with his wife and children. His first wife was the award-winning author Carol Bly. They had four children, among them the author and literature professor Mary Bly, but they divorced in 1979. In 1980, Bly married Ruth Counsell. Hav became the stepfather of her two children.
Lead was awarded the Tranströmer Prize in 2008, and in 2008 he also received the Ambolt Prize for his work in making Hauge's poetry known.
Stealing Sugar from the Castle: The Selected Poems of Robert Bly (Norton 2013)
Turkish Pears in August: Twenty-Four Ramages (Eastern Washington University Press, 2007)
The Urge to Travel Long Distances (Eastern Washington University Press, 2005)
My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy (HarperCollins, 2005)
The Night Abraham Called to the Stars (HarperCollins, 2001)
Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems (1999)
Snowbanks North of the House (1999)
Morning Poems (1997) - Norwegian retelling: Morning poetry: prose poetry and poems from the nineties, Selected retelling and afterword by Helge Torvund (Samlaget, 1999)
Meditations on the Insatiable Soul (1994)
What Have I Ever Lost by Dying ?: Collected Prose Poems (1992)
Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (1985)
Selected Poems (1986)
Mirabai Versions (1984)
The Man in the Black Coat Turns (1981)
This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years (1979)
This Body is Made of Camphor and Gopherwood (1977)
Old Man Rubbing His Eyes (1974)
Jumping Out of Bed (1973)
Sleepers Joining Hands (1973)
Odin House, Madison, Minnesota. Poem by Robert Bly. Rewriting of Tor Obrestad Olav H. Hauge, Paal- Helge Haugen and Einar Økland (1972) (Samlaget)
The Light Around the Body (1967). This collection won the National Book Award
The Lion's Tail and