Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Canadian-born American poet Josephine Jacobsen was born Josephine Boylan in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, in 1908. Her parents, Joseph Edward and Octavia Boylan, had two children, a daughter and a son. Jacobsen’s father died when she was five; she lived with her mother and brother. The family moved around a lot, to such places as New York City, North Carolina, Atlantic City, and Connecticut. When she was fourteen, the family settled down near Baltimore, Maryland. Jacobsen was tutored for awhile, and then entered the Roland Park Country School. Even in these early years, writing poetry was important to her. She was enthralled with education and learning. Her one regret was that she never went to college: “At times, it just lacerates me to think of, oh, if I’d had that experience.” After graduating from high school in 1926, Jacobsen joined a semiprofessional theater group. In 1932, she married Eric Jacobsen. They had one son and one grandson, who later died in a tragic accident.
As Elizabeth Spires has pointed out, “Unlike many of her contemporaries, Jacobsen has not pursued a particularly ’literary’ life.” Though she was publishing in periodicals such as Poetry and having small presses steadily publish volumes of her poetry, such as Let Each Man Remember in 1940, For the Unlost in 1946, The Human Climate in 1953, and The Animal Inside in 1966, it was not until she got a job working with the Library...
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Josephine Jacobsen was born August 19, 1908, in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. Soon after her birth, Jacobsen's family moved from Canada to New York. The Jacobsens then moved to Baltimore, Maryland, when Josephine was fourteen years old. She was educated by private tutors at Roland Park Country School and graduated in 1926.
Jacobsen was renowned as a poet, short-story writer, and critic. She served as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1971 to 1973 (a position that has since been renamed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry) and as honorary consultant in American letters from 1973 to 1979. In addition to these duties, Jacobsen was the vice president of the Poetry Society of America in 1978 and 1979. Jacobsen was also a member of both the literature panel for the National Endowment of the Arts and the poetry committee of Folger Library from 1979 to 1983.
Somehow, amidst all these remarkable responsibilities, Jacobsen was able to write numerous collections, including, but not limited to, The Instant of Knowing: Lectures on Criticism, and Occasional Prose (1997); What Goes without Saying: Collected Short Stories (1996); In the Crevice of Time: New and Collected Poems (1995), a collection spanning nearly sixty years of writing; The Chinese Insomniacs (1981); and The Shade-Seller: New and Selected Poems (1974). Her extraordinary writing career spanned an astounding eight decades, with her first poem...
(The entire section is 454 words.)