W. R. Rodgers (William Robert Rodgers) Biography
(1909–69), (William Robert Rodgers), Irish Literary Portraits, Awake! and Other Poems, Europa and the Bull
Northern Irish poet, born in Belfast, where he was educated at Queen's University. In 1935 he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He resigned from the ministry in 1946, after an opportunity with the BBC in London arose through his association with Louis MacNeice, whom he commemorated in the fine elegy ‘A Last Word’. Transcripts of his broadcasts on eminent Irish writers were published as Irish Literary Portraits (1972). From 1966 until his death in Los Angeles he taught at various Californian colleges. His first volume of poetry, Awake! and Other Poems (1941) was followed by Europa and the Bull (1952). Their contents, together with previously uncollected work, made up his Collected Poems (edited by Dan Davin, 1971). Rodgers's earlier work is remarkable for the extravagant musical energies it generates in imitation of the vitality of natural phenomena. His poetry was also unusual in its day for its imaginative evocations of the sinister tensions he perceived in Northern Irish society. Vivid recreations of biblical incidents are a recurrent feature of his later work. Darcy O'Brien's W. R. Rodgers (1972) is a critical and biographical study.