Saturday, 5 May 2012

John Curtis Underwood 1874-1949

Poet of the chorus girl, the motion picture star, the straphanger, and all those various types which make up the every-day life, is John Curtis Underwood. Insurgent though he is, he has a knack of portraying the tenderloin in a realistic, graphic fashion. Howard Willard Cook; Poets Of Today.

Lowry paraphrases lines from poem ‘The Sands’ from collection ‘The Iron Muse’ (1910) in ‘In Le Havre’. Collection features images and subjects reflected in Lowry's work; ‘The Sea’ ‘The Lighthouse’, ‘The Liner’” and ‘The Coal Passers’.

John Curtis Underwood, poet and literary figure, was born July 26, 1874 in Rockford, Illinois. He graduated in 1896 from Trinity (Hartford, Connecticut) with a Bachelor of Arts. In November 1918, Poetry: a Magazine of Verse, awarded Underwood the Helen Haire Levinson prize for the best poem of the year entitled "The Song of the Cheochas." At the time he lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico and gave his check to the United War Work Drive. On November 28, 1928 he married Emily Rudolph, a Californian artist. In addition to their writing and painting, they ran the Pioneer Art Gallery in Santa Fe. Underwood, a supporter of the New Mexico Museum and the arts, gave 68 books to the Museum Library in 1921.

In 1925 he gave prize money for a poetry and painting contest. Raymond Jonson won the painting contest. Underwood purchased Jonson's prize winning work, The Power of God, for the Museum collection. Mary Austin won second prize in the poetry contest. During his career Underwood published various books of poetry and literary criticism. His poems were published in magazines like Everybody's, and Ainslee's Magazine. Some of his books are Trails End (1921), Americans (1912), The Iron Muse (1910), Interpreters (1939), Processionals (1915), Pioneers (1923), and Literature and Insurgency (1914). Reviews of his work can be found in newspapers as the New York Times and the Boston Transcript.

In the preface to his book, Literature and Insurgency, Underwood gives his opinion of American literature and ideas about what poetry should be. "Poetry that is real, that is fit to survive through the centuries, needs no defense. ..., it rises triumphant from each defeat to summon men and women to greater heights of aspiration, to greater intensities and charities of common humanity shared and exalted. Great poetry like all great literature is born of storm and stress in the individual or the community." John Curtis Underwood died at age 74 on January 14, 1949 on his ranch near Santa Cruz, New Mexico. University of New Mexico - Zimmerman Library

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