James Dickey

James Dickey (1923–1997) is widely considered one of the most important Georgia-born poets of the twentieth century. Originally from Buckhead, Dickey attended Clemson and Vanderbilt universities, and then entered military service as a crewmember in fighter planes during World War II and an instructor in Korea. After periods of teaching and postgraduate studies in Texas, Florida, and Europe, he detoured away from a poetry/teaching career to become a successful advertising writer and executive in New York. He returned to Atlanta in 1961 and in that same year published his first book, Into the Stone and Other Poems. In 1966 Dickey received both the National Book Award and the Melville Cane Award of the Poetry Society of America for his fourth book, Buckdancer’s Choice. He was later named poetry consultant at the Library of Congress (1966–1968) and was appointed poet-in-residence at the University of South Carolina in 1969, remaining in that post until his death. In 1976 fellow Georgia Writers Hall of Fame honoree Jimmy Carter invited Dickey to compose and read a poem for Carter’s presidential inauguration. Though he published more than twenty books of poems, Dickey’s greatest popular fame grew out of his first novel, Deliverance (1970), which won France’s Prix Medicis and became an Academy Award–nominated film—for which Dickey wrote the screenplay. (Inducted as a charter member in 2000)