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Born in Brooklyn on February 7, 1914, David Ignatow spent most of his life in the New York City area.
He was the author of numerous books of poetry, including Living Is What I Wanted: Last Poems (BOA Editions, 1999), At My Ease: Uncollected Poems of the Fifties and Sixties (BOA Editions, 1998), I Have a Name (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 1996), Against the Evidence: Selected Poems, 1934-1994 (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 1994), Despite the Plainness of the Day: Love Poems (Mill Hunk Books, 1991), Shadowing the Ground (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 1991), and New and Collected Poems, 1970-1985 (Wesleyan University Press, 1986), among many others.
During his literary career, Ignatow worked as an editor of American Poetry Review, Analytic, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Chelsea Magazine, and as poetry editor of The Nation.
He taught at the New School for Social Research, the University of Kentucky, the University of Kansas, Vassar College, York College of the City University of New York, New York University, and Columbia University. He was president of the Poetry Society of America from 1980 to 1984 and poet-in-residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association in 1987.
Ignatow's many honors include a Bollingen Prize, two Guggenheim fellowships, the John Steinbeck Award, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters award "for a lifetime of creative effort." He received the Shelley Memorial Award (1966), the Frost Medal (1992), and the William Carlos Williams Award (1997) of the Poetry Society of America.
He died on November 17, 1997, at his home in East Hampton, New York.