Biography of William Bronk
William Bronk (February 17, 1918 - February 22, 1999) was an American poet. For the 1981 collection Life Supports he won the National Book Award for Poetry.
William Bronk was born in a house on Lower Main Street in Fort Edward, New York. He had an older brother, Sherman, who died young and two older sisters, Jane and Betty. William attended Dartmouth College, arriving there at the age of 16, and after graduation spent one semester at Harvard.
Bronk served in World War II first as a draftee but later, after attending OCS, as an officer. He was discharged from the Army in October 1945 and started teaching English at Union College, Schenectady, New York. He left Union in June 1946 and returned to Hudson Falls. There, during the later half of 1946, he completed work on The Brother in Elysium. In January 1947 Bronk took over management of the Bronk Coal and Lumber Company which he had inherited when his father died unexpectedly in 1941.
After his one semester of graduate school at Harvard, Bronk “decided I couldn't take any more of that.” He taught English at Union College. After his father died in 1941, he decided to return to the family business temporarily. He ended up staying more than 30 years. He retired from the business in 1978.
Bronk said that the poems were created in his mind as he went through the business of the day. When one was ready, he put it on paper, working in longhand rather than at a typewriter. As his manuscripts attest, he seldom rewrote, or even modified, a poem once written on paper.
William Bronk died Sunday, February 22, 1999.
William Bronk's Works:
Light and Dark, Origin Press, 1956, 2nd edition, Elizabeth Press, 1975.
The World, the Worldless, New Directions, 1964.
The Empty Hands, Elizabeth Press, 1969.
That Tantalus, Elizabeth Press, 1971.
Utterances: The Loss of Grass, Trees, Water: The Unbecoming of Wanted and Wanter, Burning Deck, 1972.
To Praise the Music, Elizabeth Press, 1972.
Looking at It, Sceptre Press, 1973.
A Partial Glossary: Two Essays, Elizabeth Press, 1974.
The Stance, Graywolf Press, 1975.
Silence and Metaphor, Elizabeth Press, 1975.
Finding Losses, Elizabeth Press, 1976.
The Meantime, Elizabeth Press, 1976.
My Father Photographed with Friends and Other Pictures, Elizabeth Press, 1976.
Twelve Losses Found, Grosseteste, 1976.
That Beauty Still, Burning Deck, 1978.
Life Supports: New and Collected Poems, North Point Press (San Francisco, CA), 1981. —winner of the National Book Award
Light in a Dark Sky, William Ewert, 1982.
Careless Love and Its Apostrophes, Red Ozier Press, 1985.
Manifest; And Furthermore, North Point Press (San Francisco, CA), 1987.
Death Is the Place (poems), North Point Press (San Francisco, CA), 1989.
Living Instead (poems), North Point Press (San Francisco, CA), 1991.
Some Words (poems), Asphodel Press (Mount Kisco, NY), 1992.
The Mild Day (poems), Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1993.
Our Selves (poems), Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1994.
Selected Poems, selected by Henry Weinfield, New Directions Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.
The Cage of Age (poems), Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1996.
Life Supports (poems), Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1997.
All of What We Loved (poems), Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1998.
Some Words (poems), Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1998.
Metaphor of Trees and Last Poems, Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1999.
Bursts of Light: The Collected Later Poems, Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 2012.
The New World, Elizabeth Press, 1974.
The Brother in Elysium, Elizabeth Press, 1980.
Vectors and Smoothable Curves, North Point Press (San Francisco, CA), 1983, new edition, Talisman House (Hoboken, NJ), 1997.
William Bronk Poems
What We Are
What we are? We say we want to become what we are or what we have an intent to be. We read the possibilities, or try.
The Smile on the Face of a Kouros
This boy, of course, was dead, whatever that might mean. And nobly dead. I think we should feel he was nobly dead. He fell in battle, perhaps,
Metonymy As An Approach To A Real World
Whether what we sense of this world is the what of this world only, or the what of which of several possible worlds - which what?- something of what we sense
What We Are
What we are? We say we want to become
what we are or what we have an intent to be.
We read the possibilities, or try.
We get to some. We think we know how to read.
We recognize a word, here and there,
a syllable: male, it says perhaps,
or female, talent - look what you could do -
or love, it says, love is what we mean.
Being at any cost: in the end, the cost