James Dickey

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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James Dickey
Born: February 2, 1923
Atlanta, Georgia
Died: January 19, 1997
Columbia, South Carolina
Occupation: Poet, novelist, critic, lecturer and teacher
Nationality: Flag of United States American
Writing period: Contemporary literature
Debut works: Into the Stone and Other Poems

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.

Dickey's 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.

  • The James Dickey Page
  • Three Audio Interviews by Don Swaim with James Dickey - RealAudio
  • 5 mp3 interviews with James Dickey from 1981 to 1987 by Don Swaim.
  • Featured Author: James Dickey With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times
  • CNN Audio Clips with James Dickey
  • James Dickey - Brief biography and a Bibliography of his published work
  • The James Dickey Library at the University of South Carolina
  • New Georgia Encyclopedia
  • David Martin, "To My Cousin on James Dickey"
  • Bronwen Dickey on her father's legacy

NAME Dickey, James
DATE OF BIRTH February 2, 1923
PLACE OF BIRTH Atlanta, Georgia
DATE OF DEATH January 19, 1997
PLACE OF DEATH Columbia, South Carolina
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