Ellen Bryant Voigt’s Life
An American poet, Ellen Bryant Voigt was born in 1943 and brought up on a ranch in Virginia, in the United States of America. She belonged to a family of Southern Baptists, who lived in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, Georgia. Her father, Lloyd Gilmore Bryant, was a farmer by profession and her mother, Missouri Yeats Bryant, was a schoolteacher.
Voigt’s core concerns both in her life and work were family experiences coupled with fate and will, choice and work, determination and natural order of the farm life. As far as her artistic spirit is concerned, she was influenced by music because she took a keen interest in melodies. She also got rigorous training in playing piano, which was the reason that she praised her musical training. Her piano training stimulated her artistic creativity in her poetry. It not only determined her impulse for order in everything she created, it also gave her a love of seclusion, as she discovered that her life was exceptionally claustrophobic in spite of all of her relatives living around her.
Starting her music lessons at the very tender age of four, Voigt kept pursuing this passion until she graduated from Converse College, where she showed her love for music as well as her passion for literature. She once mentioned her opinion regarding the importance of music in her life, stating that she always made a musical decision before making a final decision in her writing. Moreover, she said that if she cannot hear music, she cannot even write.
In order to quench her thirst for music,Voigt worked at a resort in the summer seasons as a pianist, where her friends introduced her to the poetry of famous poets such as E. E. Cummings, William Butler Yeats, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Consequently, she developed a keen interest in writing poetry. Despite pursuing her other interests, she continued studying poetry and earned her Masters of Fine Arts in 1966 from the famous creative writing program at the University of Iowa. She then stated teaching at MIT and later joined Goddard College. She also taught writing and creative writing programs at Warren Wilson College. She married Fran Voigt in 1965, who previously worked as an administrator and dean at Goddard College. The couple is now living in Cabot, Vermont with their two children, Will and Dudley.
Ellen Bryant Voigt’s Works
Voigt has published eight collections of verse and a volume of essays. Her first book of poetry was the 1976 “Claiming Kill” in which her love of nature on account of living on a ranch is prevalent. There was a long pause and then she published “Kyrie” in 1995, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.She followed this with a collection of critical essays, “The Flexible Lyric,” in 1999. However, the publication of “Shadow of Heaven” won her her highest. She published this book in 2002, and it was a finalist for the National Book Award. She also worked as the Poet Laureate of Vermont for four years, and was elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2003. She recently published a collection of poems called “Headwaters.”
Ellen Bryant Voigt’s Style and Popular Poems
Ellen Bryant Voigt is most famous for her poetry. She also wrote critical essays about poetry, which she assembled in “The Flexible Lyric” in 1999. She explores narrative styles, lyrics, forms, structures, and other genres in her poems. Her main reason for using different styles is to test the differences between the impulses and modes of narrative and lyric. Voigt demonstrates her point of view by briefly tracing the progress of lyric poetry from the Renaissance period onward to show that form cannot limit the freedom of a poet. However, it can boost the evolution of lyric poetry. She also uses strong, compelling imagery, line-breaks, and repetition for many purposes. Her most popular poems include “A Marriage Poem,” “At the Movie: 1956,” “Blue Ridge,” “Landscape, Dense with Trees,” and “Bright Leaf.”
More about Her
Ellen Bryant Voigt has received several awards for her poetry such as Alice Fay di Castagnola Award in 1983, the Emily Clark Balch Award in 1987, the Hanes Award for Poetry in 1993, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2000. She is considered one of the great living poets of the postmodern age.