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James Dickey launched his career as a poet surprisingly late in life His first collection Into the Stone and Other Poems was published when he was thirty-seven years old Dickeys experience in the military academic and advertising worlds before his emergence as a writer provided subjects and training for his artBorn on February 2 1923 in Buckhead Georgia an Atlanta suburb to lawyer Eugene Dickey and his wife Maibelle Swift Dickey James graduated from North Fulton High School In 1941 he entered Clemson A M College where he played wingback on the football team The following year he joined the Army Air Corps and as a member of the 418th Night Fighter Squadron was involved in more than one hundred bombing missions in the South PacificAfter World War II Dickey attended Vanderbilt University from which he received a BA in English magna cum laude in 1949 and an MA in English in 1950 While at Vanderbilt he published four poems in the campus literary magazine The Gadfly and one The Shark at the Window- in the Sewanee Review During his undergraduate years he married Maxine Syerson with whom he had two sons Christopher born in 1951 and Kevin born in 1958Dickeys first teaching position at Rice Institute in Houston was interrupted when he was recalled by the air force for service in Korea Following his discharge he returned to Rice but left there in 1954 to travel and write in Europe on a Sewanee Review fellowship A 1956 teaching appointment in the University of Florida English department was cut short when Dickey resigned because of a dispute over his reading of his poem The Fathers Body In April 1956 he began a successful career as copywriter and executive for advertising agencies in New York and Atlanta During his years as an ad man Dickey continued writing poetry for which he received several awards including Poetrys Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Prize in 1958
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