David Bottoms

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(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although David Bottoms’s themes are seen as broadly construed and he has in some ways escaped the label of being a southern writer, his works are nevertheless intimately tied to the Georgia landscape where he has lived for most of his life. Bottoms was born in Canton, a small town in northern Georgia, where he graduated from Cherokee High School in 1967. He earned a B.A. in English in 1971 from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and an M.A. from West Georgia College in 1973. He married Margaret Bensel, an elementary school teacher, in 1972. From 1974 to 1978, he taught high school English, participating in the Georgia Poets in the Schools program sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society. After receiving the Walt Whitman Award in 1979, he accepted a graduate fellowship at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where he earned a doctorate in creative writing and American poetry in 1982. Tallahassee would serve as the setting for his novel Any Cold Jordan, just as Macon would be the setting for Easter Weekend. In 1982, Bottoms became a professor of creative writing at Georgia State University, where he later would hold the Amos Distinguished Chair in English Letters. Other than a brief hiatus as the Richard Hugo Poet-in-Residence at the University of Montana, Bottoms has remained at Georgia State University. He and his wife divorced in 1987, and he married attorney Kelly Jean Beard (whom he met in Montana) in 1989. Their daughter Rachel was born in 1991.