Entertainment & Arts

US poet Louis Simpson dies at 89

Louis Simpson, pictured in 2003
Image caption Simpson published his first collection The Arrivistes in 1949

Louis Simpson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet 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, 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.

He 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.

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. In an interview with the BBC News website in 2007, poet Sean O'Brien described Simpson's work To The Western World as "a wonderful, elegiac political poem about possibility".

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 Simpson as a man who "chronicled his life through his literature".

"He lived through poetry and he did so right up to his death," he told the BBC News website.

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