Distinguished novelist, poet, and educator Robert "Red" Penn Warren (1905-1989) was born on this day in Guthrie, Kentucky. Set to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, his life was forever changed when at age 15, he lost the use of an eye when his brother accidentally hit him with a rock.
He once said: "You don't choose a story, it chooses you. You get together with that story somehow... You're stuck with it."
He chose to pursue his passion for literature...
Called a "genuinely good man" by his biographer Joseph Blotner, Warren graduated from Yale and was an Oxford Rhodes Scholar. He became a respected editor and critic and instructor at major universities throughout America.
Leading the New Criticism movement, in 1935, he co-founded and edited the literary quarterly, The Southern Review at Louisiana State University. The legendary journal continues to spotlight great writing.
"There is no country but the heart," Warren said.
His textbook, Understanding Poetry (1938) set the academic standard for analyzing and celebrating the artform. It revolutionized the classroom teaching of poetry.
"The poem is not a thing we see; it is, rather, a light by which we may see," he said.
Warren won his first of three Pulitzer Prizes in 1947 for his masterpiece, All the King's Men, a riveting morality tale of the rise and fall of Southern politician Willie Stark. "Without (Louisiana Governor) Huey Long," Warren said, "I wouldn't have written it."
Awarded the Pulitzer twice for poetry, in 1957 and 1979, he became America's first Poet Laureate in 1986. "The poem is a little myth of manís capacity of making life meaningful," he said.
Take delight in telling your story.