Edgar Bowers Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Edgar Bowers is known primarily for his poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Edgar Bowers’s poetry was championed by Yvor Winters, who offered the first critiques of Bowers’s poetry in his critical book Forms of Discovery (1967). Winters’s analysis was based on Bowers’s first two books, The Form of Loss and The Astronomers. Winters was drawn to Bowers’s imagery, his word choice, and his capable use of meter. He noted that Bowers’s “vision” was shaped by many factors, including the war, his reading, and his intellectual interests. In his Lives of the Poets (1998), Michael Schmidt includes Bowers as one of the representative poets of the modern era and notes the influence on Winters on Bowers’s style, describing the “harsh discipline” of Winters’s teaching of poetry writing as having produced rigorously formal poetry linked to stoicism.

Bowers received many awards and honors in his career. In 1950, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study in England. In 1955, he won the Swallow Press Prize for Poetry. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships, in 1958 and 1969. In 1973, he received the Silver Medal in poetry from the Commonwealth Club of California for Living Together. In 1989, Bowers won both the Bolligen Prize and the Harriet Monroe Prize for excellence in poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Akard, Jeffery, and Joshua Odell. A Bibliography of the Published Works of Edgar Bowers. Barth Bibliographies 3. Santa Barbara, Calif.: J. Akard, 1988. Provides technical descriptions of the books published before 1988 and includes listings of the periodicals in which many of the poems were first published. Bowers provided a chronology for the poems as well.

Davis, Dick. “The Mystery of Consciousness: A Tribute to the Poet Edgar Bowers.” Poets and Writers, July/August, 2000, 14-19. A tribute to Bowers and analysis of some of his poetry by his friend Dick Davis.

Fraser, Russell. “Edgar Bowers: His Little Book and All the Rest.” Yale Review 96, no. 1 (January, 2008): 24. Fraser reflects on his friendship with Bowers and Bowers’s poetry.

Schmidt, Michael. Lives of the Poets. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998. Places Bowers in the context of a discussion of Yvor Winters’s poetry and notes the influence of Winters on Bowers’s use of language and uses of poetic form.

Wilmer, Clive. “Obituary: Edgar Bowers, American Poet Exploring the Mysteries of Life with an Aesthetic and Sensitive Intellect.” The Guardian, February 15, 2000, p. 22. Obituary details Bowers’s life and describes his poetry as having an “extreme aesthetic refinement and an intense feeling for the mystery of things.”

Winters, Yvor. Forms of Discovery. Denver, Colo.: Alan Swallow Press, 1967. Winters studies Bowers’s first two books and analyzes their strengths and weaknesses. Winters also edited two collections of poetry in which he included Bowers’s verse: Poets of the Pacific (1949; second series) and Quest for Reality (with Kenneth Fields, 1969).