Jack Gilbert Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Jack Gilbert is known primarily for his poetry. He has taught literature and writing and given public readings of his own work.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Jack Gilbert’s Views of Jeopardy won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 1962 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Monolithos was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Stanley Kunitz Prize and American Poetry Review Prize among others. Gilbert earned the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and the PEN Center USA West Poetry Award, both in 1995 for The Great Fires, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award in 1998. Refusing Heaven won the National Book Critics Circle Award (2005) and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2005). Gilbert’s career has been spent largely outside the literary world, living abroad or in near-solitude, giving weight to his primary subjects of loneliness and loss and his ultimate message of pleasure in living. The gaps in time between published volumes are because of his insistence on careful attention to craft. For Gilbert, good poetry takes time, experience, and focus.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Dow, Philip, ed. Nineteen New American Poets of the Golden Gate. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984. In an essay Gilbert wrote to introduce a selection of his poems, Gilbert discusses his poetic style. This manifesto contrasts his concrete style and themes of knowing and understanding with rhetorical poetry’s ornamentation and symbolic language.

Freeman, John. “Refusing Heaven: A Profile of Jack Gilbert.” Poets and Writers. (March/April, 2005). This profile based on an interview of the elusive poet on the eve of the publication of Refusing Heaven discusses Gilbert’s views on aging, mortality, and a life dedicated to poetry.

Genesis West. “Genesis West Celebrates the Excellence of Jack Gilbert.” 1, no. 1 (Fall, 1962): 66-94. This feature article in the first issue of Genesis West is devoted to the winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Several major poets, including Denise Levertov, Theodore Roethke, Stephen Spender, Muriel Rukeyser, and Stanley Kunitz, praise, analyze, and discuss Gilbert’s first book. This issue contains an interview with Gilbert and a selection of his poems.

Gilbert, Jack. “An Interview with Jack Gilbert.” Interview by Chard deNiord. American Poetry Review 38, no. 1 (January/February, 2009): 26-30. Gilbert discusses his views on poetry, saying that he wants a poem to make a person feel something. He talks about love and the process of creating a poem.

_______. “Jack Gilbert.” Interview by Sarah Fay. In“Paris Review” Interviews, edited by Philip Gourevitch. Vol. 1. New York: Picador, 2006. In this interview of the poet at his home in Northhampton, conducted in January and July, 2005, by Paris Review interviewer Fay, he discusses his life and poetry.