James Dickey (James Lafayette Dickey) Biography
(1923–1997), (James Lafayette Dickey), Into the Stone, Helmets, Buckdancer's Choice
American poet and novelist, born in Atlanta, Georgia, educated at Vanderbilt University. Having held posts at numerous American colleges and universities, he became Professor of English at the University of South Carolina in 1969. Into the Stone (1960) and Helmets (1964) are among his earlier collections of verse, which gained him wide notice as a powerfully direct poet of considerable conventional accomplishment. Buckdancer's Choice (1965) initiated the audacious formal experimentation which has remained a characteristic of his verse, much of which explores fundamental relations between man and his natural contexts. The value of the violent and bizarre aspects of his poetry has been the subject of critical controversy. His subsequent collections include The Eye-Beaters, Blood, Victory, Madness, Buckhead and Mercy (1970), The Zodiac (1976), Puella (1982), The Eagle's Mile (1990), in which a new purity of lyrical energy becomes evident; The Early Motion (1981), The Central Motion (1983), and The Whole Motion (1992) are collected editions. Deliverance (1970), the best-known of his novels, is the compelling story of four businessmen whose holiday journey to the wilds of Georgia develops into a struggle for survival. Alnilam (1987) describes a blind father's quest for knowledge of his son, whose death in a flying accident is linked with a secret society. To the White Sea (1993) concerns American airmen escaping through wartime Japan. Among Dickey's numerous other publications are the critical works The Suspect in Poetry (1964) and Sorties (1971), and the topographical writings of The Starry Place between the Antlers (1981) and Wayfarer (with photographs by W. A. Bake, 1988).