James Dickey Poems

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James Dickey
James Dickey (February 2, 1923 January 19, 1997) was a popular United States poet and novelist. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a lawyer, Eugene Dickey, and his wife, Maibelle Swift Dickey. He attended North Fulton High School in Atlanta's Buckhead (Atlanta) neighborhood. In 1942 he enrolled at Clemson University and played on the football team as a tailback. After one semester, he left school to enlist in the Army Air Corps. Dickey served in the U.S. Army night fighter squadrons during the Second World War, and in the U.S. Air force during the Korean War. Between the wars he attended Vanderbilt University, graduating with degrees in English and philosophy, as well as minoring in astronomy. In November 1948 he married Maxine Syerson, and three years later they had their first son, Christopher; a second son, Kevin, was born in 1958. Two months after Maxine died in 1976, Dickey married Deborah Dodson. Their daughter, Bronwen, was born in 1979. Christopher is a novelist and journalist, lately providing coverage from the Middle East for Newsweek. Kevin is a radiologist and lives in New England. Bronwen is currently a creative-writing graduate student. From 1950 to 1954, Dickey taught at Rice University (then Rice Institute) in Houston. He then worked for several years in advertising, most notably writing copy and helping direct creative work on the Coca-Cola campaign. He once said he embarked on his advertising career in order to "make some bucks." He returned to poetry in 1960, and his first book, Into the Stone and Other Poems, was published in 1962. Buckdancer's Choice earned him a National Book Award in 1966. Among his better known poems are "The Performance," "Cherrylog Road," "The Firebombing," "May Day Sermon," "Falling," and "For The Last Wolverine." His popularity exploded after the film version of his novel Deliverance was released in 1972. Dickey had a cameo in the film as a sheriff. The poet was invited to read his poem "The Strength of Fields" at President Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 1977. James Dickey died four days after his last class at the University of South Carolina, where from 1968 he taught as Poet-in-Residence. Dickey spent his last years in and out of hospitals, afflicted first with jaundice and later fibrosis of the lungs.

cherrylog road
 
 
Off Highway 106
At Cherrylog Road I entered
The '34 Ford without wheels,
Smothered in... [read poem]
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