James Tate

James Tate

1965 - 1968
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A History of Writers in the English Philosophy Building


Just west of the Main Library is the English-Philosophy Building. From the time it was built in the late 1960s until 1997 it housed the Workshop. Its gray, utilitarian classrooms were the location of much beauty and heartbreak. Its small lounge on the third floor was the space where visiting writers for all those years endured the question and answer sessions that take place the morning after heralded readings. I have heard Robert Hass, Louise Glück, James Tate, James Merrill, John Ashbery, W. S. Merwin, Seamus Heaney, and Helen Vendler all answer questions in that room.

-Jan Weissmiller

Weissmiller, Jan. “Iowa City: City Guides.” Poets & Writers. Poets & Writers, 1 May 2012. Web. 15 July 2016.


James Tate on Iowa City and Prairie Lights Bookstore

Prairie Lights Bookstore
15 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City Iowa

In an interview with Charles Simic in the Paris Review, Tate discusses how he approached poetry in his workshop days.

“I can remember standing in this great bookstore in Iowa City one day and I pulled a book of Elizabeth Bishop’s off the shelf. I think it was North and South. I stood there reading and reading and it just didn’t click. Nothing hit me. It took me quite a few years before I fell in love with her.” He calls this moment “a credit to his shame.”

Simic, Charles. “James Tate, The Art of Poetry No. 92.” The Paris Review, 12 June 2017, www.theparisreview.org/interviews/5636/james-tate-the-art-of-poetry-no-92-james-tate.


James Tate: Literary Walk Plaque

James Tate’s plaque on The Iowa Avenue Literary Walk reads:

I’ve seen fox, deer, wild turkey, pheasant, skunk, snakes, moles, guinea hens. I’ve thrown a boomerang that never came back.

This line is from the poem ‘In My Own Backyard’ in Worshipful Company of Fletchers.

Tate, James. Worshipful Company of Fletchers (The Ecco Press, 1994)


Writers on the Fly: James Tate

Iowa City
123 S Linn St

Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, Writers on the Fly, Iowa City UNESCO City of LiteratureDec 13, 2010

James Vincent Tate was born on December 8, 1943 in Kansas City, Missouri. Tate attended Kansas State College and The University of Missouri. He then enrolled in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and received his M.F.A in 1967. In his first year at Iowa, his early collection of poems “The Lost Pilot” won the Yale Younger Poets Award. Tate won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award in 1991 for his Selected Poems.


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