George Oppen

George Oppen, born 1908 in New Rochelle, New York, was the author of seven books of poetry, beginning with Discrete Series in 1934. Classed by Louis Zukofsky as an “Objectivist,” together with Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi and others, Oppen gave up poetry to become a Communist social worker, along with his wife Mary, to help the unemployed during the great Depression. After factory work, service in the US Army during the Second World War, and exile in Mexico as a fugitive from McCarthyism, he was not to publish his second book, The Materials until 1962.  In 1968 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his fourth book, Of Being Numerous. He died of Alzheimer’s disease in California in 1984.