James Tate is an American poet whose work has earned him the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
James Vincent Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his B.A. from Kansas State University in 1965 and then went on to earn his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in their famed Writer's Workshop.
Tate has taught creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. He currently teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he has worked since ... more »
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James Tate Poems
It Happens Like This
I was outside St. Cecelia's Rectory smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me. It was mostly black and white, with a little reddish brown here and there. When I started to walk away,
Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dream- ing so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it? A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled back, skin falling off. But he wasn't afraid of that. It was a beau-
Never Again The Same
Speaking of sunsets, last night's was shocking. I mean, sunsets aren't supposed to frighten you, are they? Well, this one was terrifying.
The Lost Pilot
for my father, 1922-1944 Your face did not rot like the others--the co-pilot,
A Knock On The Door
They ask me if I've ever thought about the end of the world, and I say, "Come in, come in, let me give you some lunch, for God's sake." After a few bites it's the afterlife they want to talk about.
Happy As The Day Is Long
I take the long walk up the staircase to my secret room. Today's big news: they found Amelia Earhart's shoe, size 9. 1992: Charlie Christian is bebopping at Minton's in 1941. Today, the Presidential primaries have failed us once again.
Like A Scarf
The directions to the lunatic asylum were confusing, more likely they were the random associations and confused ramblings of a lunatic. We arrived three hours late for lunch
The List Of Famous Hats
Napoleon's hat is an obvious choice I guess to list as a famous hat, but that's not the hat I have in mind. That was his hat for show. I am thinking of his private bathing cap, which in all hon- esty wasn't much different than the one any jerk might buy at a
Shut Up And Eat Your Toad
The disorganization to which I currently belong has skipped several meetings in a row which is a pattern I find almost fatally attractive. Down at headquarters there's a secretary
Success Comes To Cow Creek
I sit on the tracks, a hundred feet from earth, fifty from the water. Gerald is
The Wrong Way Home
All night a door floated down the river. It tried to remember little incidents of pleasure from its former life, like the time the lovers leaned against it kissing for hours
Thinking Ahead To Possible Options And A...
I swerved to avoid hitting a squirrel in the center of the road and that's when the deer came charging out of the forest and forced me to hit the brakes for all I
More Later, Less The Same
The common is unusually calm--they captured the storm last night, it's sleeping in the stockade, relieved of its duty, pacified, tamed, a pussycat. But not before it tied the flagpole in knots,
My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry
There's a fortune to be made in just about everything in this country, somebody's father had to invent everything--baby food, tractors, rat poisoning. My family's obviously done nothing since the beginning
Comments about James Tate
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
It Happens Like This
I was outside St. Cecelia's Rectory
smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me.
It was mostly black and white, with a little reddish
brown here and there. When I started to walk away,
it followed. I was amused and delighted, but wondered
what the laws were on this kind of thing. There's
a leash law for dogs, but what about goats? People
smiled at me and admired the goat. "It's not my goat,"
I explained. "It's the town's goat. I'm just taking
my turn caring for it." "I didn't know we had a goat,"
one of them said. "I ...