Carl Rakosi Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Carl Rakosi was born on November 6, 1903, to Hungarian nationals Leopold Rakosi and Flora Steiner, who were at that time living in Berlin. The young Rakosi was brought to the United States in 1910; his father and stepmother reared him and his brother in various midwestern cities—Chicago; Gary, Indiana; and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rakosi made many attempts to begin a career. After earning his B.A. in literature at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he tried social work in Cleveland and New York City. He returned to Madison for an M.A. in educational psychology and then worked as the staff psychologist in the personnel department at Bloomingdale’s for a time. He taught English at the University of Texas at Austin and made forays into law school (in Austin) and medical school (in Galveston). Having found neither law nor medicine congenial, he taught high school in Houston for two years. At the outset of the Depression, he tried social work again, returning to Chicago to work at the Cook County Bureau of Public Welfare. By now he had changed his name, to Callman Rawley. He served a two-year stint as a supervisor at the Federal Transit Bureau in New Orleans; then, following a period of working as a field supervisor for Tulane University, he started to work—in a pioneering role—as a family therapist at the Jewish Family Welfare Society in New York. At the same time, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania; in 1940 he received an M.A. in social work.

His professional course was now clear. After three years as a case supervisor at the Jewish Social Service Bureau in St. Louis and two years as assistant director of the Jewish Children’s Bureau in Cleveland, he became executive director of the Jewish...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Carl Rakosi (RAH-koh-shee), usually identified with the Objectivist poetry movement in the United States, came to the United States at the age of seven. He was educated at the University of Wisconsin, where he received two degrees, and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he received his M.S.W. Later he also studied at the University of Texas in Austin and at the University of Chicago. In 1924, he legally changed his name to Callman Rawley, hoping to avoid both mispronunciation and discrimination, but he decided to keep Carl Rakosi as his pen name. In 1939, he married Leah Jaffe; they had two children, Barbara and George.{$S[A]Rawley, Callman;Rakosi, Carl}

Much like William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens, Rakosi chose to work in a field unrelated to writing and teaching. He worked as a caseworker in public welfare and other social services, changing positions often during the Depression, and he was the executive director of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service in Minneapolis from 1945 to 1968. He also had a private practice in psychotherapy from 1958 to 1968. As of 1968, he began to give more time to his writing, applying for and being granted writer-in-residence status at the prestigious Yaddo Colony each summer from 1968 to 1975.

It is not coincidental that he earned his first award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1969, which was followed by NEA fellowships in 1972 and 1979. In 1988, Rakosi received both a Fund for Poetry Prize and an award from the National Poetry Association. In 1986, he became the senior editor of the literary magazine Sagetrieb, located in Maine. Rakosi’s manuscripts and letters are split between the holdings of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the Widener Library at Harvard.

The Objectivist movement began in the 1930’s and...

(The entire section is 757 words.)