On May 23, 1939, Stanley Plumly was born to Herman and Esther Plumly in
Barnesville, Ohio. Following Stanley's birth, the family moved from farm work
to carpentry jobs and back to farm work in Virginia and Ohio. Plumly graduated
from Wilmington College, a small work-study school in Ohio, in 1962. While he
was in college, his writing talents were recognized and encouraged by the
playwright-poet-teacher Joel Climenhaga. Plumly received his MA from Ohio
University in 1968 and did course work toward a PhD at the same school.
The writer's father, who died at the age of fifty-six of a heart attack brought on
by his chronic alcoholism, dominates the poet's work: "I can hardly think
of a poem I've written that at some point in its history did not implicate, or
figure, my father" (Iowa Review, Fall 1973). His mother also
figures prominently as the silent, helpless witness of her husband's
Plumly's books of poetry include Old Heart (W. W. Norton, 2007); The Marriage in the
Trees (Ecco Press, 1997); Boy on the Step (1989);
Summer Celestial (1983); Out-of-the-Body Travel
(1977), which won the William Carlos Williams Award and was nominated for the
National Book Critics Circle Award; Giraffe (1973); In the
Outer Dark (1970), which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. He is also the author of the nonfiction books Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography (W. W. Norton, 2008); Argument & Song: Sources & Silences in Poetry (Other Press, 2003).
He edited the Ohio Review from 1970 to 1975 and the Iowa
Review from 1976 to 1978. He has taught at numerous institutions including
Louisiana State University, Ohio University, Princeton, Columbia, and the
Universities of Iowa, Michigan, and Houston, as well as at the Bread Loaf
Writers' Conference in 1978 and 1979.
His honors include a Guggenheim
Fellowship (Plumly's father died while the poet was in Europe on this grant in
1973), an Ingram-Merrill Foundation Fellowship, and a National Endowment for
the Arts grant. He is a professor of English at the University of Maryland,
College Park. Currently, he is Maryland's poet laureate.