May 5, 2004 by

Thom Gunn

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Categories: Writers/Editors

tgunn.jpgThom William Gunn, an award-winning British poet, died on April 25. Cause of death was not released. He was 74.
Born in Gravesend, England, Gunn published his first book, “Fighting Terms,” at 25. He was a member of “The Movement,” a group of promising, young British poets, and eventually produced eight more poetry collections.
Gunn was attending Trinity College, Cambridge, in the early 1950s when he met Mike Kitay, an American. They fell in love and remained partners for 52 years, and Kitay inspired many of Gunn’s more romantic poems. In 1954, they moved to California and adopted San Francisco as their new hometown.
From 1958 to 1966, and from 1973 to 1990, Gunn taught English at the University of California, Berkeley. Outside of academia, he delved into California’s counterculture scene — exploring the biker culture, experimenting with drugs and writing poems about mythology and hedonism.
His book, “The Man With Night Sweats,” described how the AIDS epidemic affected the gay population in San Francisco. It won the 1992 Forward Prize and the Lenore Marshall/Nation Poetry Prize. A Guggenheim and MacArthur fellow, Gunn also received the Somerset Maugham Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Poetry and the prestigious David Cohen British Literature Prize in 2003.

One Response to Thom Gunn

  1. Sharon

    He was the best prof I ever had (at UC Berkeley 1965-66), for English literature and creative writing (both prose and poetry). His poetry will live on and, I’m sure, grow in popularity, prominence and importance. He was a likeable person and an excellent teacher. I will never forget his positive influence on my thinking and writing.

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