Home Arts & Culture Poet Louis Simpson dies at his New York home aged 89

Poet Louis Simpson dies at his New York home aged 89

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Poet Louis Simpson, a Pulitzer Prize-winner whose work often explored the darker side of life in the US suburbs, has died at his New York home aged 89.

Born in Jamaica in March 1923, Louis Simpson – the son of a Russian mother and a lawyer of Scottish descent – moved to the US at the age of 17.

The Columbia University graduate published more than 18 books of poetry.

Louis Simpson won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1964 for his fourth collection At the End of the Open Road.

Its title was inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem Song of the Open Road, which presented a vision of America replete with optimism and potential.

Poet Louis Simpson has died at his New York home aged 89

Poet Louis Simpson has died at his New York home aged 89

The collection contained the short poem In the Suburbs, in which he offered the bleaker suggestion that there was “no way out” for those “born to this middleclass life”.

His admirers included such writers as Seamus Heaney and William Matthews.

Louis Simpson, who served in World War II with the 101st Airborne Division, lived for many years in Setauket, New York on the north shore of Long Island.

His final collection Struggling Times was published in 2009 by BOA Editions and dealt directly with his old age and declining health.


Speaking on Tuesday, BOA Editions publisher Peter Conners remembered Louis Simpson as a man who “chronicled his life through his literature”.