A career academic whose most profound satisfactions have come from working with young student poets and from introducing inexperienced readers to the intricate argument and dense sonic effects of formal poetry, specifically High Renaissance British verse, Linda Karen Gregerson readily admits that her life lacks the striking traumatic moments that so often define the confessional poets of her generation. She was born and raised in the small town of Elgin, just north of Chicago. She enjoyed a typical midwestern middle-class postwar adolescence. A precocious reader and a gifted student, she attended Oberlin College, a progressive liberal arts school in central Ohio, noted for its long tradition of encouraging promising artists in a variety of endeavors. She wrote verse in college but was drawn to the theater.
After her graduation in 1971 with a B.A., Gregerson toured with Oberlin College’s avant-garde repertory company, known as KRAKEN, relishing the work of creating characters using language and voice and responding as well to the open dynamic of performance itself, the intimacy and immediacy of the theater as a place that sustained a kind of eternal present. By comparison, the poet’s work was executed in intense isolation and the work itself could not be appreciated until long after its composition, and even then the poet did not share in that moment of response.
Nevertheless, Gregorson’s most profound ambitions lay with poetry, in...
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