Jean Garrigue

The poetry of Jean Garrigue was heavily influenced by travel and nature, as well as music. As she stated in an interview with Contemporary Authors: "Music is a passion as is Renaissance and Gothic architecture. I prefer elaborate structures to functional slick ones. Chopin, Keats, and Proust were early powerful influences. So were mountains and water."

Photo: Jean Garrigue, public domain

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Born in Evansville, Indiana, Garrigue edited a newspaper in the late 1930s and then wrote for the U.S.O. during World War II. Throughout her life, she taught English and served as poet-in-residence at several universities in the United States.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Garrigue traveled Europe intermittently, falling in love with the landscape and architecture. She also spent time in the nature of New England, especially Vermont. These experience had a profound effect on her poetry and explain the emphasis on travel and nature in her verses.

Garrigue’s poetry is complex, and she often uses difficult vocabulary, but her use of language is perfectly aligned to her subject matter (see poetry of Louise Talma’s “Rain Song”).

Many of her poems explore the American landscape in relation to the living spirit of Americans, such as her famous poem “The Grand Canyon.”

–Christie Finn

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