The influential writer wrote compellingly about passion, loss and loneliness.

This article titled “Jack Gilbert obituary” was written by Neil Astley, for on Tuesday 20th November 2012 14.17 UTC

Jack Gilbert, who has died at 87, was both an outsider and a major figure in modern American poetry. Defiantly unfashionable, dismissive of careerism and academia, he lived outside America for much of his life, publishing only five collections in five decades.

Initially associated with the Beats, he left the US after winning the Yale Younger Poets prize with Views of Jeopardy in 1962, eking out a living for many years on Greek islands. His second collection, Monolithos, appeared 20 years later, in 1982, but he made his strongest impression on US readers with two later collections, The Great Fires (1994) and Refusing Heaven (2005), winner of the National Book Critics Circle award. A final collection, The Dance Most of All, followed in 2009, and then, earlier this year, his Collected Poems, hailed by the New York Times as “a revelation”. Transgressions, the selection of his poetry which I edited for Bloodaxe, introduced his work to readers in Britain in 2006.

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