November 22 (UPI) – American poet Robert Bly, an imposing literary figure whose work has earned him accolades including a National Book Award but whose theories about masculinity have drawn criticism, died in Minneapolis on Sunday, his family said. He was 94 years old.
Bly, a best-selling author, anti-war activist and translator who introduced international poets to American audiences, has died at his home with most of his family by his side, his daughter, Mary Bly, told the Star Tribune.
“We played Chopin all day before, and literally all of his kids were around him. And when he took his last breath, it was with a choral hallelujah,” she said.
A strikingly-looking Minnesota native at well over 6 feet tall and typically sporting thick, shaggy hair, Bly has long been considered one of the nation’s leading advocates of poetry and is credited with rocking a scene widely. complacent from 1962 with its first large collection, Silence in the snowy fields, which he wrote with his first wife, writer Carol Bly.
Six years later he won a National Book Award for his collection The light around the body. By this time he had become a prominent critic of the Vietnam War, reflected in angry poems such as “Counting Small Bone Bodies” and “The Mother With Bare Teeth at Last”.
During this period, Bly drew large crowds to his poetry readings, which he staged with a theatrical touch with masks and backgrounds of drums and sitars. They would include recitations of several hours, often from memory.
In the 1990s, he reached another level of notoriety – but also controversy – with the publication of Iron John: A Book About Men, which has become an international bestseller. Prompted by the death of her father, Bly in the book uses a mythological framework to offer “a new take on what it means to be a man.”
He attracted many supporters among those who agreed with his thesis that modern civilization had dissociated men from their feelings and was a key work of the “mythopoetic movement of men” of the time, characterized by circles of men. drumming, self-help activities and therapeutic workshops.
Iron John, however, drew a significant backlash from feminists, who argued that the book and the men’s movement it helped inspire did little to address issues of male violence against women and hostility to homosexuality.