Poet Barbara Guest dies at 85 | india | Hindustan Times
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Poet Barbara Guest dies at 85

Barbara Guest, the best known woman in the New York School of avant-garde poets has passed away.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 17:23 IST

Modernist poet Barbara Guest, the best known woman in the influential New York School of avantgarde poets and a winner of the prestigious Robert Frost Medal, has died. She was 85.

Guest, who wrote more than 20 books of poetry, essays, plays, fiction and biography, died Feb. 15 in a Berkeley hospital of complications from a series of strokes, her daughter, Hadley Guest said Friday.

Guest, who was inspired by Abstract Expressionist artists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, wrote in unrhymed verses and was known for her liberal use of white space on the page. "Her placement of words was like the placement of paint on a canvas," said Hadley Guest, who lived with her mother in Berkeley. Born Barbara Pinson in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1920, she was the oldest of five children and grew up in several Florida towns before moving to Los Angeles to live with relatives at age 11. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in English, she moved to New York City and worked as a reviewer for Art News magazine for most of the 1950s. Her first book of verse, The Location of Things, was published in 1960, when she was a member of the influential New York School, which included writers such as Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery. Her other books of poetry include The Countess From Minneapolis (1976) and The Tuerler Losses (1980). "In short stanzas and single lines that pour over the page, Guest writes as if recording the topmost level of impressions that have roots in unfathomable histories," a reviewer wrote for Publisher's Weekly.

Guest, who was married three times, is survived by her two children. A funeral was held in Oakland last month.