John Orley Allen Tate was an American poet, essayist, social commentator, and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1943 to 1944.
He was born near Winchester, Kentucky, in 1899, the son of businessman John Orley Tate and Eleanor Varnell. He studied violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and attended Vanderbilt University, where he was a friend of fellow poet Robert Penn Warren. He and Warren were members of The Fugitives, a short-lived group of poets and literary scholars who were influential in making Vanderbilt a fountainhead of the New Criticism. He, Warren, and John Crowe Ransom were also members of the conservative literary group the Southern Agrarians.
He worked as a freelance journalist, writing for The Nation, Hound & Horn, Poetry, and The New Republic. He started the creative writing program at Princeton while serving as poet-in-residence at the university. He helped transform The Sewanee Review, the country’s oldest continuously published periodical of its kind, into one of America’s pre-eminent literary journals. He later taught at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
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