Chronology of Hyam Plutzik's Life
The following chronology will suggest the structure of Hyam Plutzik's life but reveal little of its texture and animus. That he did not speak English until he went to school; that he got some C's and D's in freshman English at Trinity; that he smoked a pipe; that one of his English friends during World War II, Ralph Mottram, later became Lord Mayor of Norwich; that en famille he would spin elaborate comic myths about his wife and children; that at the University of Rochester he was a founder of the “Marching and Chowder Society”; that like all true poets he was a fisherman, who reckoned not the catch—these are angles of the man, but his identity, like yours and mine, was a living, creating thing, not a geometry.
1911 Born in Brooklyn, to Samuel and Sadie Plutzik, immigrants in 1905 from Lapichi, in western Russia (Minsk); two brothers, David and Emanuel, and three sisters: Molly (d. 1920), Alice (Plutzik) Kurland, and Naomi (Plutzik) Riese.
1913-1923 Lives on an eighty-acre farm near Southbury, Connecticut; attends a one-room country school. 1923 Father becomes head of Jewish community and schule in Bristol, Connecticut, where HP graduates from high school.
1928-1932 Scholarship student at Trinity College, Hartford; Phi Beta Kappa, BS in English.
1932-1933 Graduate student in English at Yale University.
1933 Wins Yale University Poetry Pnze for The Three.
1933-1934 Works off and on as a reporter and editor for the New Haven Journal-Courier, the Newark Ledger, and the Brooklyn Eagle (Walt Whitman's paper).
1936-1937 Spends a "Thoreauvian" year in rural Connecticut (near Quaker Farms) meditating a novel and a satirical work on dictatorships. Writes "My Sister" (published in Aspects of Proteus), Sept. 24, 1937.
1939-1940 Works as editor and assistant to director, HES Neighborhood House, Brooklyn.
1939-1941 Resumes graduate work at Yale: MA 1940 (thesis on Carlyle and Whitman), PhD work under way (on Whitman). Works on "Seventh Avenue Express" and other poems.
1941 Wins his second Yale Poetry Prize for "Death at the Purple Rim."
1942 Enlists in the Army: trains at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland; becomes a platoon leader and drill sergeant.
1943 Commissioned 2nd Lt., USAAF (OCS); marries Tanya Roth of Brooklyn; duty in Southern states.
1944-1945 Ordinance Officer, 506th Squadron of 44th Heavy: Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force, Shipdham, Norfolk, England (loading bombs on B-24 Liberator aircraft for raids on Europe). After victory in Europe becomes Education and Information Officer of Shipdham Base. First notes on Horatio.
1945 Discharged as 1st Lt., USAAF: appointed Instructor in English, University of Rochester (Chairman: Richard Greene).
1948 Daughter Roberta born.
1949 Aspects of Proteus (Harpers)
1950 National Institute of Arts and Letters Prize for Poetry. Son Alan born.
1951 Borestone Prize for Poetry (with Rolfe Humphries).
1954-1955 Ford Foundation Fellowship at Yale, on interconnections of modern poetry, art, and science. Son Jonathan born (1954).
1958 Daughter Deborah born.
1959 Apples from Shinar (Wesleyan); Lillian Fairchild Award.
1960 Reading at the Library of Congress and elsewhere.
1961 Horatio (Atheneum); named Deane Professor of Poetry and Rhetoric, University of Rochester.
1962 January 9: death, in Rochester.