Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Gjertrud Cecelia Schnackenberg, the daughter of Walter Charles Schnackenberg and Doris Strom Schnackenberg, was born in Tacoma, Washington, on August 27, 1953. The Schnackenberg family is of Norwegian ancestry and Lutheran heritage. Gjertrud was raised in the Lutheran Church and throughout her literary career has shown a great familiarity with and affinity for the beliefs and language of Christianity. She has also made extensive use of historical personages and events, especially from classical Greece and Rome; her father was a professor of Russian and medieval history at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.
Her father died in 1973, and his passing had a profound impact on Schnackenberg, who has fashioned a number of poems from her memories of him. Among these are “Bavaria,” about their trip to Europe in 1962, “The Lamplit Answer,” the title poem of her second volume, and “Laughing with One Eye,” a series of exquisitely wrought elegies composed in 1977 and one of Schnackenberg’s most important early works.
Schnackenberg had begun writing poetry when she was nineteen and a student at Mount Holyoke, the year before her father died. She graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1975 and soon won a series of prestigious fellowships and awards. Her first book, the slim volume Portraits and Elegies, was published in 1982. This was followed three years later in 1985 with The Lamplit Answer.
On October 5, 1987, she...
(The entire section is 303 words.)
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Gjertrud Schnackenberg was born on August 27, 1953, in Tacoma, Washington. Her family was of Norwegian descent and Lutheran religious faith. Walter Schnackenberg, her father, was a professor of Russian and medieval history at Pacific Lutheran University, and his early death in 1973 had a profound and lasting impact on his twenty-year-old daughter. As a youngster, Schnackenberg shared a close, warm relationship with her father, and he had a greater influence on her than anyone else in her life. They enjoyed night-fishing and other outdoor activities together, as well as quiet times of reading and study. The older Schnackenberg was a highly intellectual man, who passed on his love of history to his daughter. At nineteen, as a student at Mount Holyoke College, she began to write poetry, and her father’s death the following year would become the subject of her first collection, Portraits and Elegies, in which “Darwin in 1881” first appeared.
Schanckenberg’s talent as a poet was immediately recognized by her instructors and other members of the poetry community. She won the distinguished Glascock Award for poetry in both 1973 and 1974 and graduated summa cum laude from Mount Holyoke in 1975. Four years later, she received a Radcliffe College fellowship, and in 1983 she lived in Italy on an American Academy- Institute of Arts and Letters Rome fellowship. With the publication of her first collection in 1982, Schnackenberg earned her place among...
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Biography (Poetry for Students)
Gjertrud Schnackenberg was born on August 27, 1953, in Tacoma, Washington. Her Lutheran family was of Norwegian descent. Her father, Walter Charles Schnackenberg, taught at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, a college that was founded by Norwegian immigrants. As Schnackenberg grew up, she enjoyed a very close relationship with her father, and his early death in 1973 affected her profoundly. At the time, she was an undergraduate student at Mount Holyoke College, from which she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in 1975. At Mount Holyoke, students and professors alike were aware of her remarkable talent, and in 1973 and 1974 she won the prestigious Glascock Prize for poetry. This recognition brought her work to the attention of influential poets. Her first published collection, Portraits and Elegies (1982), was enthusiastically received by critics and established her as one of the foremost young poets in America. Many of the poems in the collection were tributes to her late father, recalling the times she had spent with him. In "Nightfishing," for example, she remembers a predawn fishing trip they made together; in "Returning North," she describes a trip to Norway they took when she was ten years old.
During the 1980s, Schnackenberg won many awards, including the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets (1983), the Rome Prize in Literature (1983–1984) from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and...
(The entire section is 380 words.)