Marvin Bell Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Marvin Bell published mainly poetry, he wrote essays about poetry in Old Snow Just Melting: Essays and Interviews (1983). Bell also collaborated with poet William Stafford on two books, Segues: A Correspondence in Poetry (1983) and Annie-Over (1988). He also made a sound recording of The Self and the Mulberry Tree (1977) for the Watershed Foundation. His poetry has appeared in many anthologies, and in 1998, he published some of his collected poems in Wednesday: Selected Poems, 1966-1997 in Ireland.

Bell has extensive editing experience, first with Statements (1959-1964), which he founded, and later as poetry editor for the North American Review (1964-1969) and the Iowa Review (1969-1971). Partly because of his long association with the Iowa Review and the University of Iowa, he was twice interviewed at length by the editors of the Iowa Review: in the winter edition of 1981 and in the fall issue of 2000.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Marvin Bell has steadily acquired critical acclaim. He won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets for A Probable Volume of Dreams and the Bess Hokin Award from Poetry magazine, both in 1969; the Emily Clark Balch Prize from the Virginia Quarterly Review in 1970; and the prestigious Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994. He was also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1976) and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1978 and 1984). He has twice held Senior Fulbright Scholarships (Yugoslavia, 1983; Australia, 1986) and has served as visiting professor at several universities. In 1986, his alma mater, Alfred University, awarded him the Lh.D., and in 2000, he was named the first poet laureate in Iowa; he served two terms.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Bell, Marvin. “An Interview with Marvin Bell.” Interview by David Hamilton. Iowa Review 30 (Fall, 2000): 3-22. Because Bell was the first poetry editor for the Iowa Review, which interviewed him in 1981, this review provides an excellent overview of Bell’s writing career. Hamilton discusses the development of the Dead Man poems, beginning with Iris of Creation with later appearances in A Marvin Bell Reader (1994). These lead to The Book of the Dead Man and Ardor. The Resurrected Dead Man first appeared in Wednesday (1997), published in Ireland. Hamilton describes the Dead Man as “an archetypal figure with sacramental dimensions.” Bell distinguishes between the two figures by stating that a Dead Man poem is a field, but a Resurrected Dead Man poem is a path: “I go first. If you want to follow me, you have to stay on the path.”

_______. “My Twenties in Chicago: A Memoir.” TriQuarterly 60 (Spring/Summer, 1984): 118-126. Bell’s vivid account of the years 1958 to 1961, which he spent in the artistic neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago. Bell describes the “activist” nature of the neighborhood, his growing involvement with photography, his master’s writing classes at the University of Chicago, and his many colleagues, friends, and teachers. John Logan, poet and professor, is discussed at...

(The entire section is 473 words.)