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John Knoepfle

Born: February 4, 1923 in Cincinnati, Ohio
Died: November 16, 2019

Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Knoepfle lived in Auburn and Springfield.

Biography: John Knoepfle was known for his poetry about the Midwest. He attended Xavier University and St. Louis University. He was a professor and insturctor at St. Louis University and then at Sangamon State University - now, University of Illinois at Springfield. Currently, he was a professor emeritus of literature at the University of Illinois at Springfield.In 1986 the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named him Illinois Author of the Year. He has also received the Mark Twain award for contributions to Midwestern literature.

  • Body of Work Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contributions to Midwestern Literature (1986), Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature at Michigan State University Illinois Writer of the Year (1986), Illinois Association of Teachers of English Literary Heritage Award (1995), Illinois Center for the Book Doctor of Humane Letters (1996), Maryville University Doctor of Humane Letters (1999), Springfield College in Illinois WILL Award Signaling Excellence in the Arts (2002), University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign President's Award for Exemplary Achievement in the Literary Arts (2004), Poets and Writers Literary Forum, Springfield

Primary Literary Genre(s): Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

An Affair of Culture

An Affair of Culture

Begging an Amnesty
ISBN: 0945301103 OCLC: 32256048

Druid Press, Birmingham, Ala. : ©1994.

Dim Tales
ISBN: 0935153128 OCLC:

  Dogs and Cats and Things Like That
ISBN: 0070351252 OCLC: 216402

McGraw-Hill New York, [1971]

Seventeen poems about familiar and unfamiliar animals.

I Look Around for My Life: An Autobiography of John Knoepfle
ISBN: 9780977731831 OCLC: 228139464

Burning Daylight, Boulder, CO : ©2008.

John Knoepfle tells the story of how he became the poet he is. By turns humorous and moving, I Look Around for My Life provides riveting descriptions of his experiences in major naval battles of World War II at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He then chronicles his trips along the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers in the 1950s, creating oral histories from his taped conversations with retired riverboat pilots. He explores the scope of his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, and provides valuable insights into his friendships and collaborations with other prominent poets, including Bly, Frost, Lowell, and James Wright.

John Knoepfle: Selected Poems
ISBN: 0933532539 OCLC: Kansas City, Mo. :

Bkmk Pr/Umkc Kansas City, Mo. : 1985

John Knoepfle's Selected Poems comprises large parts of his earlier books Rivers Into Islands (1965) and The Intricate Land (1970) and smaller selections from seven others, including Thinking of Offerings (1975) and A Box of Sandalwood (1979). Its total of more than a hundred poems offers a clear vision and vivid statement of truth out of a heart in the heart of the country. Knoepfle's own voice is clear, virile, and honest. It is middle-American in its wry wit and cadence, its colloquial idiom; cultured in its range of imagery and its breadth of diction; and skilled in its manipulation of speech. Above all, Knoepfle has a sure sense of form, in both line and poem; scarcely a line isn't vivid with image or rich in sound and fitted meticulously to its poem's rhythm. It's a rare pleasure to read a poet who, once he's received the poem, knows its beginning, middle, and end and can shape it to its essentials without clutter or self-conscious embellishment. Recommended for all public and academic libraries and for readers who want the genuine article. -- From Independent Publisher

Men of the Inland Rivers: Interviews from the Age of Steamboats, Packets and Towboats
ISBN: 0989724298 OCLC: [S.l.] :

Burning Daylight [S.l.] : 2020

During the 1800s Americans developed the foundation for commerce and future economic growth. Steamboats were what drove American commerce in the 1800s and into the early 1900s until the 1950s when steamboats were no longer profitable. Boats in the inland rivers transported everything: lumber, oil for lamps, coal, cotton, and every type of farm animal and crop. Steamboats carried mail, and at a time before radio, TV, and movies, they provided entertainment. In the 1950s John Knoepfle set about interviewing some seventy workers who had spent their lives on steamboats, packets and towboats. They were captains, pilots, boat owners, show boaters, night watchmen, mates, roustabouts, lock masters, packet cooks, among others. As told in their own words, this is the true story of steamboating. This is an important and authentic part of American history.

  Our Street Feels Good; Poems for Children
ISBN: 0070351287 OCLC: 219910

McGraw-Hill New York, [1972]

A collection of poems reflecting the activities of city children.

Poems from the Sangamon
ISBN: 0252012437 OCLC: 11841286

"Regional poetry at its best, where the strongly articulated local voice slips easily, persuasively, and movingly into the universal." -- J. R. Willingham, Choice "Uses the history and prehistory of the Sangamon river valley as his subject matter; the poems are laconic, earthy, full of sharply observed details, and are rendered with a flair for common speech." -- Library Journal "Knoepfle has long been misunderstood and underestimated among U.S. poets. . . . poems from the sangamon, his finest single collection to date, celebrates the Sangamon country around Springfield." -- Charles Guenther, St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Captures without nostalgia a time and a people in their essences, embodying their raw emotions, their dreams, and the bitter realities of being caught up in the twentieth century." -- Anne C. Bromley, Prairie Schooner

Prayer Against Famine and Other Irish Poems
ISBN: 1886157456 OCLC: 54425127

BkMk Press, Kansas City, Mo. : ©2004.

Rivers Into Islands
ISBN: 0226448118 OCLC:

Shadows and Starlight
ISBN: 9780984652341 OCLC: 796933954

What's new in this book? What is new comes from being eighty-nine. There is a great freedom in these poems. They range at will from the mundane to the utterly mysterious and deeply spiritual. There are conversations with friends and a conversation about a malfunctioning alarm clock with the poet's son. The poet crosses boundaries. He breaks rules. Emotions shift. Galaxies appear and reappear. The angel of death comes up with a comment on the poet's work. There is advice from Santa Claus. What more could a reader require? The shadows are deep. The starlight is bright. You will also find and enjoy Knoepfle's love of the words and rhythms of our daily speech -- and his way of laying a line on the page. It's all lower case, no caps except for the poet's "I," no punctuation, just the minimal clues so you can get the sound and sense. For Knoepfle, every line is a poem - in the way it sounds and in the way it stacks up with the others to create a surprise. Born in Cincinnati in 1923, John Knoepfle has seen a lot of history. He's a Purple Heart Veteran; as a boat officer on an attack transport in the Pacific during World War II, he took part in the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. As a young writer and teacher, he joined the Civil Rights movement and worked to build the Great Society. Since then he has written about the many places he has lived and visited - the people, the landscape, the stories, the hidden history, often illuminated by his Catholic faith. You will find all these things in this book.

Songs for Gail Guidry's Guitar
ISBN: 0912284021 OCLC:

The Aloe of Evening
ISBN: 0989724255 OCLC: 939554010

The Chinkapin Oak
ISBN: 0964603748 OCLC: 33931462

Rosehill Press, Springfield, Ill. : ©1995.

The Intricate Land
ISBN: 0912284102 OCLC: 124281

New Rivers Press, New York : 1970.

Thinking of Offerings: Poems, 1970-1973
ISBN: 0686618939 OCLC:

Walking in Snow
ISBN: 9780977731879 OCLC: 317714769

In these 112 pages, John Knoepfle eloquently celebrates themes that have engaged him as a poet for over half a century--life, love, and death. The best collection of new poems you will ever find. Walking in Snow, embraces us with wit, warmth, and affection, these luminous, intensely honest poems, testify to courage, tenderness, and the enduring wonders of nature.