Wallace Stevens

Poet

Born: 2 October 1879
Died: 2 August 1955
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania
Best known as: The poet and insurance man who wrote "The Emperor of Ice Cream"
Now considered one of the great modernist poets, Wallace Stevens didn't receive many literary honors until late in life: He was over 70 when he won the National Book Award twice (1950 and 1954) and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1955. His poems are as enigmatic as the poet, who spent four decades as an insurance executive while writing verse in his spare time. A graduate of New York Law School (1904), he worked in journalism and law, then spent most of his working life in Hartford, Connecticut, rising to vice president at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company. His first collection of poems, Harmonium, was published in 1923 and included the poems "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" and "The Emperor of Ice Cream." Other major collections include The Man with the Blue Guitar & Other Poems (1937), Transport to Summer (1947) and Auroras to Autumn (1950).
Extra credit: Legend has it that Wallace Stevens once had a row with Ernest Hemingway, with Wallace coming out of it on the short end of the stick.

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