|Born||Conrad Potter Aiken|
August 5, 1889
Savannah, Georgia, United States
|Died||August 17, 1973 (aged 84)|
Savannah, Georgia, US
|Occupation||Poet, playwright, essayist, novelist, critic|
|Spouse||Jessie McDonald (1912–1929)|
Clarissa Lorenz (1930)
Mary Hoover (1937)
|Children||3, including Jane and Joan|
Aiken was the son of wealthy, socially prominent New Englanders, William Ford and Anna (Potter) Aiken, who had moved to Savannah, Georgia, where his father became a respected physician and brain surgeon. Then something happened for which, as Aiken later said, no one could ever find a reason. Without warning or apparent cause, his father became increasingly irascible, unpredictable, and violent. Finally, early in the morning of February 27, 1901, he murdered his wife and shot himself. According to his own writings, Aiken (who was eleven years old) heard the gunshots and discovered the bodies. He was then raised by his great aunt in Massachusetts and was educated at private schools and at Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, then at Harvard University where he edited the Advocate with T. S. Eliot, who became a lifelong friend and associate.
Aiken's earliest poetry was written partly under the influence of a beloved teacher, the philosopher George Santayana. This relationship shaped Aiken as a poet, deeply musical in his approach and, at the same time, philosophical in seeking answers to his own problems and the problems of the modern world.
Aiken was strongly influenced by symbolism, especially in his earlier works. In 1930 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Selected Poems. Many of his writings had psychological themes. He wrote the widely anthologized short story "Silent Snow, Secret Snow" (1934). His collections of verse include Earth Triumphant (1914), The Charnel Rose (1918) and And In the Hanging Gardens (1933). His poem "Music I Heard" has been set to music by a number of composers, including Leonard Bernstein and Henry Cowell.
Other influences were Aiken's grandfather, Potter, who had been a church preacher, as well as Whitman's poetry which was 'free' style. This helped Aiken shape his poetry more freely while his recognition of a God grounded his more visually rich explorations into the universe. Some of his best known poetry, such as "Morning Song of Senlin", uses these influences to great effect.
Aiken wrote or edited more than 51 books, the first of which was published in 1914, two years after his graduation from Harvard. His work includes novels, short stories (The Collected Short Stories appeared in 1961), criticism, autobiography, and poetry. He was awarded the National Medal for Literature, the Gold Medal for Poetry from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Pulitzer Prize, the Bollingen Prize, and the National Book Award. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, taught briefly at Harvard, and served as consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress from 1950 to 1952. He lived at 323 Second Street SE, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. He was also largely responsible for establishing Emily Dickinson's reputation as a major American poet.
After 1960, when his work was rediscovered by readers and critics, a new view of Aiken emerged—one that emphasized his psychological problems, along with his continuing study of Sigmund Freud, Carl G. Jung, Otto Rank, and other depth psychologists. Two of his five novels deal with depth psychology.
Aiken's writing was largely influenced by Freud (he was also an admirer of Rank, Ferenczi, Adler, and somewhat less Jung); however, Freud never replied to a letter Aiken sent him. Although Aiken was encouraged by H.D to go to Vienna to meet Freud, the dream was never realized. As he later wrote, "Freud had read Great Circle, and I’m told kept a copy on his office table. But I didn’t go, though I started to. Misgivings set in, and so did poverty."
Conrad married Canadian Jessie McDonald in 1912, and the couple moved to England in 1921 with their first two children; John (born 1913) and Jane (born 1917), and settled in Rye, East Sussex (where the American novelist Henry James had once lived). Joan was born in 1924 and the marriage was dissolved in 1929. After returning to America, up until the outbreak of World War II, he served in loco parentis as well as mentor to the budding English author Malcolm Lowry. In 1923 he acted as a witness at the marriage of his friend the poet W. H. Davies. In 1950, he became Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, more commonly known as Poet Laureate of the United States. In 1960 he visited Grasmere in the English Lake District (once the home of William Wordsworth) with his friend from Rye, the painter Edward Burra.
Aiken returned to Savannah for the last 11 years of his life. Aiken's tomb, located in Bonaventure Cemetery on the banks of the Wilmington River, was made famous by its mention in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the bestselling book by John Berendt. According to local legend, Aiken wished to have his tombstone fashioned in the shape of a bench as an invitation to visitors to stop and enjoy a martini at his grave. Its inscriptions read "Give my love to the world," and "Cosmos Mariner—Destination Unknown."
He was married three times: first to Jessie McDonald (1912–1929); second to Clarissa Lorenz (1930) (author of a biography, Lorelei Two); and third to Mary Hoover (1937). He was the father, by Jessie McDonald, of the writers John Aiken, Jane Aiken Hodge and Joan Aiken.
Aiken had three younger siblings, Kempton, Robert and Elizabeth. After their parents' deaths, they were adopted by Frederick Winslow Taylor and his wife Louise, a distant relative, and took Taylor's last name. Kempton was known as K. P. A. Taylor (Kempton Potter Aiken Taylor) and Robert was known as Robert P. A. Taylor (Robert Potter Aiken Taylor). Kempton helped establish the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry.
The most regarded source for information on Aiken's life is his autobiographical novel Ushant (1952), one of his major works. In this book he speaks candidly about his various affairs and marriages, his attempted suicide and fear of insanity, and his friendships with T.S. Eliot (who appears in the book as the Tsetse), Ezra Pound (Rabbi Ben Ezra), Malcolm Lowry (Hambo), and others.
Named poetry consultant of the Library of Congress from 1950–1952, Conrad Aiken earned numerous prestigious national writing awards, including a National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Gold Medal and the National Medal for Literature. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1934, Academy of American Poets fellowship in 1957, Huntington Hartford Foundation Award in 1960, and Brandeis University Creative Arts Award in 1967. Honored by his native state in 1973 with the title of Poet Laureate, Aiken is remembered there as the first Georgia-born author to win a Pulitzer Prize (in 1930, for his Selected Poems).
Aiken was the first winner of the Poetry Society of America (PSA) Shelley Memorial Award, in 1929.
In 2009, the Library of America selected Aiken's 1931 story "Mr. Arcularis" for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American fantastic tales.
A case in point involved Aiken, who had filled an in loco parentis role for [Lowry] in his youth… (Pg. 224).
The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1930.A Swiftly Tilting Planet
A Swiftly Tilting Planet is a science fiction novel by Madeleine L'Engle, the third book in the Time Quintet. It was first published in 1978 with cover art by Diane Dillon.
The book's title is an allusion to the poem "Morning Song of Senlin" by Conrad Aiken.Aiken (surname)
Aiken is a Scots-Irish surname, used as a variant to the original Scottish name Aitken. Notable people with the surname include:
Alastair Aiken (born 1993), British YouTuber known as Ali-A
Ann Aiken (born 1951), American judge and attorney
Blair Aiken (born 1956), American stock car racing driver
Brady Aiken (born 1996), American baseball player
Carl Aiken (born 1962), English-born reggae singer known as Shinehead
Caroline Aiken (born 1955), American musician
Charles Augustus Aiken (1827–1892), American clergyman and academic
Charles Avery Aiken (1872–1965), American painter
Clay Aiken (born 1978), American singer, actor, activist, and television personality
Conrad Aiken (1889–1973), American writer
Danny Aiken (born 1988), American football player
D. Wyatt Aiken (1828–1887), American army officer and politician
Frank Aiken (1898–1983), Irish politician
Frederick Aiken (1832–1878), American lawyer and journalist
George Aiken (1892–1984), American politician
Howard Aiken (1900–1973), American physicist
James Aiken (1888–1974), Scottish Canadian politician
Jesse B. Aiken (1808–1900), American musician
Joan Aiken (1924–2004), British novelist
John Macdonald Aiken (1880–1961), Scottish painter
John Aiken (RAF officer) (1921–2005), British Royal Air Force officer
John Aiken (ice hockey) (born 1932), American ice hockey goaltender
John Aiken (cricketer) (born 1970), New Zealand cricketer
Kimberly Clarice Aiken (born 1974), American winner of Miss America 1994
Liam Aiken (born 1990), American actor
Linda Aiken (born 1943), American nursing researcher
Loretta Mary Aiken (1894–1975), American comedian known as Moms Mabley
Miles Aiken (born 1941), American basketball player
Sam Aiken (born 1980), American football player
Thomas Aiken (born 1983), South African golfer
Tommy Aiken (born 1946), Northern Irish footballer
William Aiken (1779–1831), Irish American politician
William Aiken, Jr. (1806–1887), American politician
William Martin Aiken (1855–1908), American architectAiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry
The Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry is an annual prize, administered by the Sewanee Review and the University of the South, awarded to a writer who has had a substantial and distinguished career. It was established through a bequest by Dr. K.P.A. Taylor, a poet and younger brother of Conrad Aiken.Bollingen Prize
The Bollingen Prize for Poetry is a literary honor bestowed on an American poet in recognition of the best book of new verse within the last two years, or for lifetime achievement. It is awarded every two years by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University.Duell, Sloan and Pearce
Duell, Sloan and Pearce was a publishing company located in New York City. It was founded in 1939 by C. Halliwell Duell, Samuel Sloan and Charles A. Pearce. It initially published general fiction and non-fiction, but not westerns, light romances or children's books. It published works by many prominent authors, including Archibald MacLeish, John O'Hara, Erskine Caldwell (including his American Folkways series) Anaïs Nin, Conrad Aiken, Wallace Stegner, E. E. Cummings, Howard Fast, Benjamin Spock and Joseph Jay Deiss. In addition to their literary list, the firm published many works of military history with a focus on aviation in the war years.
Duell, Sloan and Pearce soon became sales agent for Musette Publishers, which had a line of children's books. The firm also published photographic essays, including the U.S. Camera annuals. U.S. Camera 1941 was banned in Boston because it contained photographs of nudes. In 1942 the firm agreed to handle all advertising, promotion, selling and distribution of Eagle Books titles. The firm later added the Essential Books and Bloodhound Mysteries divisions. In 1947 they introduced the New American Naturalist series, which was intended to provide a comprehensive survey of American flora and fauna for the general reader. Arrowhead Books was later added as an independent subsidiary of Duell, Sloan and Pearce.
In 1951 Duell, Sloan and Pearce entered into an agreement with Little, Brown and Company for Little, Brown to handle the manufacturing, warehousing, promotion and selling of all Duell, Sloan and Pearce titles. The two firms remained independent, but the books carried both imprints. In 1956, Duell, Sloan and Pearce terminated the arrangement with Little, Brown, and joined the McKay Group, a cooperative selling and manufacturing association in New York. In March 1961 Duell, Sloan and Pearce became an affiliate of Meredith Publishing Company. In 1967 Meredith announced that all affiliated imprints, including Duell, Sloan and Pearce, would no longer be used. The rights to Duell, Sloan and Pearce books were sold by Meredith to the independent publisher Hawthorn Books in 1969. After Hawthorn closed in 1977, the rights to its titles were acquired by E. P. Dutton.Eliot Rosewater
Eliot Rosewater is a recurring character in the novels of American author Kurt Vonnegut. He appears throughout various novels as an alcoholic, and a philanthropist who claims to be a volunteer fireman. He runs the Rosewater Foundation, an organization created to keep the family's money in the family. He is among the few fans of the novels of Kilgore Trout (another of Vonnegut's creations).Grolier Poetry Bookshop
The Grolier Poetry Book Shop ("the Grolier") is an independent bookstore on Plympton Street near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Although founded as a "first edition" bookstore, its focus today is solely poetry. A small (404 sq ft (37.5 m2)), one-room store with towering bookcases, it lays claim to being the "oldest continuous bookshop" devoted solely to the sale of poetry and poetry criticism.
Over the years, the Grolier became a focus of poetic activity in the Cambridge area, which itself had, because of the influence of Harvard University, become a magnet for American poets. It became a point of call for visiting poets as well as a nexus of gossip, rumor and networking in the poetry community. Male poets such as John Ashbery, Robert Bly, Robert Creeley, Donald Hall, and Frank O'Hara were regulars at the store during their time as undergraduates at Harvard; the poet Conrad Aiken lived upstairs from the store in its early days. Numerous other poets and writers, including Russell Banks, Frank Bidart, William Corbett, E. E. Cummings, T. S. Eliot, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Ferry, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, Marianne Moore, Charles Olson, Robert Pinsky, Adrienne Rich, Ruth Stone, James Tate and Franz Wright, have been noted as "friends of the Grolier."Joan Aiken
Joan Delano Aiken (4 September 1924 – 4 January 2004) was an English writer specialising in supernatural fiction and children's alternative history novels. In 1999 she was awarded an MBE for her services to children's literature. For The Whispering Mountain, published by Jonathan Cape in 1968, she won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers, and she was a commended runner-up for the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British writer. She won an Edgar Allan Poe Award (1972) for Night Fall.José García Villa
Jose Garcia Villa (August 5, 1908 – February 7, 1997) was a Filipino poet, literary critic, short story writer, and painter. He was awarded the National Artist of the Philippines title for literature in 1973, as well as the Guggenheim Fellowship in creative writing by Conrad Aiken. He is known to have introduced the "reversed consonance rhyme scheme" in writing poetry, as well as the extensive use of punctuation marks—especially commas, which made him known as the Comma Poet. He used the penname Doveglion (derived from "Dove, Eagle, Lion"), based on the characters he derived from himself. These animals were also explored by another poet E. E. Cummings in Doveglion, Adventures in Value, a poem dedicated to Villa.London Mercury
The London Mercury was the name of several periodicals published in London from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The earliest was a newspaper that appeared during the Exclusion Bill crisis; it lasted only 56 issues (1682). (Earlier periodicals had employed similar names: Mercurius Politicus, 1659; The Impartial Protestant Mercury, 1681.) Successor periodicals published as The London Mercury during the 18th and 19th centuries.Martin Armstrong (writer)
Martin Donisthorpe Armstrong (2 October 1882 – 24 February 1974) was an English writer and poet, known for his stories.Armstrong was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College, Cambridge.
During World War I he volunteered with the British Army and served in France as a Private in the Artists' Rifles. He was commissioned into the 8th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, T.F. in 1915 and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1916. He was included in the final Georgian Poetry anthology.
He married in 1929 Canadian writer Jessie McDonald after she had divorced Conrad Aiken, making Armstrong the stepfather of the young Joan Aiken. He appears in disguised form as a character in Conrad Aiken's Ushant.Samuel Jeake
Samuel Jeake (1623–1690), dubbed the Elder to distinguish him from his son, was an English merchant, nonconformist, antiquary and astrologer from Rye, East Sussex, England.Selected Poems
Among the numerous literary works titled Selected Poems are the following:
Selected Poems (Conrad Aiken) by Conrad Aiken
Selected Poems (Robert Frost) by Robert Frost
Selected Poems (Galway Kinnell) by Galway Kinnell
Selected Poems (MacDiarmid) by Hugh MacDiarmid
Selected Poems (Howard Moss) by Howard Moss
Selected Poems (Robert Nathan) by Robert Nathan
Selected Poems (Sylvia Plath) by Sylvia Plath
Selected Poems (Robert Pinsky) by Robert Pinsky
Selected Poems (J. C. Ransom) by John Crowe Ransom
Selected Poems (C. A. Smith) by Clark Ashton Smith
Selected Poems (James Tate) by James Tate
Selected Poems (Vern Rutsala) by Vern RutsalaShelley Memorial Award
The Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, was established by the will of Mary P. Sears, and named after the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The prize is given to a living American poet selected with reference to genius and need, and is currently worth (2014) between $6,000 and $9,000. The selection is made by a jury of three poets: one each appointed by the presidents of Radcliffe and Berkeley, and the third by the Board of Governors of the Society.Silent Snow, Secret Snow
"Silent Snow, Secret Snow" (1934) is Conrad Aiken's best-known short story, often included in anthologies of classic American horror and fantasy short fiction. It appeared in The Collected Stories of Conrad Aiken in 1934, and since then has been widely anthologized.The Dial
The Dial was an American magazine published intermittently from 1840 to 1929. In its first form, from 1840 to 1844, it served as the chief publication of the Transcendentalists. From the 1880s to 1919 it was revived as a political review and literary criticism magazine. From 1920 to 1929 it was an influential outlet for modernist literature in English.