James Tate dies at 71; Pulitzer-winning poet, longtime English professor

Associated Press

James Tate, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and longtime English professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, died Wednesday after a long illness, the university said. He was 71.

Tate was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1992 for "Selected Poems." It was one of many honors he received, including the National Book Award for 1994's "Worshipful Company of Fletchers" and a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for poetry.

Over his career, he published more than 20 volumes of poetry.

Tate had taught in UMass-Amherst's Master of Fine Arts program for poets and writers since 1971.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy called Tate one of the school's most distinguished faculty members.

"For over four decades, professor Tate generously shared his extraordinary talents with students and colleagues," Subbaswamy said. "Although he will be greatly missed, his poetry will live on and continue to inspire."

A native of Kansas City, Mo., Tate attended Kansas State College of Pittsburg. He was studying at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop when, at 23, his first collection of poetry, "The Lost Pilot," was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, which is for poets under 40 who had not previously published a volume of poetry.

A celebration of Tate's life and his poetry will be held in New York City in the fall, said Jennifer Jacobson, associate director of UMass-Amherst's Master of Fine Arts program.

Tate was married to poet and fellow UMass-Amherst English professor Dara Wier.

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