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Howard Nemerov

NEMEROV, HOWARD (1920–1991), U.S. poet and novelist. Nemerov was born in New York. His sister was Diane *Arbus, the photographer. He was educated at Harvard and served as a pilot in World War II. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1978) and was the Poet Laureate from 1988 to 1990. His poetry is marked by a brooding, illuminating intelligence as well as comic irony and wit: for example, in "A Memory of My Friend," a "Jewish atheist stubborn as Freud" says to a departing guest, "… instead of 'Good night,' 'Go with God.'" His Judaism was secular though he did focus on themes drawn from Hebrew Scripture and Jewish history, as, for example, in "To the Babylonians" and "False Solomon's Seal," and in the poetic dramas, "Endor" and "Cain." He also brought Hebrew Scripture into the narrative allusiveness of the poem, as in "Small Moment," with its epigraphic reference to Isaiah 54:7, and in "The First Day." He wrote three novels: The Melodramatists (1949); Federigo; or, The Power of Love (1954); and The Homecoming Game: A Novel (1992). His Collected Poems were published in 1977; A Howard Nemerov Reader, in 1991.


R. Labrie, Howard Nemerov (1980); W. Mills, The Stillness in Moving Things: The World of Howard Nemerov (1975); D. Potts, Howard Nemerov and Objective Idealism: The Influence of Owen Barfield (1994).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.