Repeating Islands

Simpson analyzed the American dream in spare poems about war, infidelity and suburban alienation. His ‘At the End of the Open Road’ won the Pulitzer in 1964, as Elaine Woo reports in this obituary for The Los Angeles Times

“A poet,” Louis Simpson once wrote, “should wish for enough unhappiness to keep him writing.”

Simpson may not have wished for trouble, but he kept writing for 60 years — spare, powerful poems about war, infidelity, suburban alienation and other modern ailments that brought a Pulitzer Prize and wide recognition as a perceptive, if cynical, analyst of the American dream.

A native Jamaican of Scottish and Russian descent, Simpson died in his sleep Sept. 14 in Stony Brook, N.Y. He was 89 and had Alzheimer’s disease, said his daughter, Anne B. Simpson.

In 1964, when he was an assistant professor of English at UC Berkeley, Simpson won…

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