James Dickey, an American poet.


Poet and novelist James Dickey autographs a book, 1984. – https://www.flickr.com/photos/etsuarchives/


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As for anyone who doesn’t know who the man by the name of James Dickey is… you are definitely going to want to know this superb author.

James Dickey was born on February 2nd, 1923 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dickey attended North Fulton High School and played football as a tail backer. After one semester, Dickey decided he would enlist in the Army Air Corps to serve as a radar operator in a night fighter squadron during World War 2. Later, he also joined the U.S Air Force to contribute in the Korean War. Between the two wars, Dickey attended Vanderbilt University and achieved his Master of Arts degree in English along with Philosophy.

The image of American poet James Dickey (1923-...
The image of American poet James Dickey (1923-1997) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dickey was a man full of experience and it reflect in his writing style. He formed his own writing style throughout the years of writing poetry, books, and etc. He firstly focused on his rhythm in his writing, he began using the split line and free verse that came associated to his work. The most recognizable feature in his work that formed his own style was his use with his ambitious experimentation with his language and form. Inverted syntax’s, horizontal spaces in between lines, and even making oddly shaped poems. Dickey expanded his writing into things people have never seen before which made him such a popular writer, he knew how to speed up the readers reading, and knew how to cause an unnatural jump from line to line which caused the reader to become more entertained with the work. One of his most popular poem was called “Falling”, a poem written about a newspaper article talking about a Allegheny Airlines stewardess that fell out of an airplane and was later on found, dead.  “Falling” is basically a timeline of events from the start of the fall to the end of the fall, her death. At first he starts off with her being in a panic and frightened about the fact she is going to plummet to earth and die. Second, he explains how she somewhat comes in to acceptance of her death and she learns that the human body can fly in a way, she then looks for any water to fall into but she can’t find anything to save her. She then undresses as she is falling down from the sky getting closer and closer to her destination, the ground. This is how she wants to die, rather naked than found in an airlines uniform, so she takes off everything to be a pure, desirable women, and she dies this way. There are many other different interpretations of what this poem actually means but only the writer, James Dickey, know what he really meant when he wrote it.

Dickey has also said that past and current events in his life inspire his different works of writing which is understandable considering it coming from a man with such life experience. “Deliverance” a very popular book written by him was actually related to some of the events that he has done in his life or even some thing that happened in his friend’s life such as, going canoeing and bow-hunting in the wild northern Georgia that he did throughout the years.

As you can see, Dickey was not only a fantastic American poet and writer, but also a man full of wisdom and experience. His writing will inspire writers today and far more future writers to come. As Dickey once said “Poetry is, I think, the highest medium that mankind has ever come up with. It’s language itself, which is a miraculous medium which makes everything else that man has ever done possible.”