Philip Booth Biography

Biography

(Poets and Poetry in America)

As his poetry suggests, Philip Edmund Booth was a New Englander, a man of Down East sensibilities and humor. Born in 1925 in Hanover, New Hampshire, to a Dartmouth English professor, and having grown up both in New Hampshire and in Maine, he settled in the white-clapboard, black-shuttered, 130-year-old house in Castine, Maine, which belonged to his family for five generations. Thomas Jefferson had appointed Booth’s maternal great-great-grandfather to serve as customs collector in Castine two hundred years before, and the Greek Revival house on Main Street where the poet would reside belonged to his mother’s family for nearly a century.

Booth received his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; there, as a freshman in a noncredit seminar during the summer of 1943, he met Robert Frost, who acted as an occasional grandfather for Booth’s three daughters during the early years of his marriage (in 1946, to Margaret Tillman). Booth graduated from Dartmouth in 1947, taught at Bowdoin College in Maine in 1949, and then stopped teaching for a while. He hoped to be a novelist and, to pay the bills for the next four years, worked in both Vermont and New Hampshire at jobs that included a stint in Dartmouth’s admissions office, work as a traveling ski-book salesperson, and some time in a carpentry shop. After deciding that he was not a good storyteller but rather a good wordsmith, Booth turned his attention to writing poetry. He earned his master’s degree at Syracuse University, and for the next twenty-five years, he served as senior poet in the creative writing program there. During these years he edited several volumes of Syracuse Poems.

Booth published poetry in many leading literary magazines and journals, including Harper’s, Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and Saturday Review. He developed Alzheimer’s disease and died in Hanover on July 2, 2007.

Philip Booth Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Philip Booth, like many other contemporary poets, has spent much of his career in an academic atmosphere. He took a baccalaureate degree at Dartmouth College in 1947 and taught at Bowdoin College in Maine in 1949, then dropped out of teaching for four years to write as a novelist. After deciding that he was better as a writer of poetry than of fiction, he returned to it and earned his master’s degree at Syracuse University, where he served for the next twenty-five years in the creative writing program. He was also a staff member for poetry workshops at Tufts University and the University of New Hampshire.

As a poet, Booth has won a number of awards. He received the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine in 1955. Two years later, he received the Saturday Review poetry award for his poem “The Margin.” He also received the Lamont Prize of the Academy of American Poets in 1957. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1958-1959 and was Phi Beta Kappa poet at Columbia University in 1962. In 1983, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of American Poets. His 1986 collection Relations received the Maurice English Poetry Award. In addition to his volumes of poetry, Booth has had numerous publications in various literary magazines and journals, including Harper’s, The New Yorker, and Saturday Review, as well as in anthologies of contemporary poetry.