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Robert Bly, poet who gave birth to a male movement, dies at 94

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Unperturbed, he continued his workshops for years with a more down-to-earth approach. He ditched the drums, but always used myths and poetry and invited women and men to discuss a range of topics, including parenting and racism.

And he continued to write rivers of poetry, edit magazines and translate works from Swedish, Norwegian, German and Spanish, and produce whining. In The Sibling Society (1996), Mr Bly called for mentoring a generation of children growing up without fathers, who were instead shaped by rock music, violent movies, television, and computers in what he called a state of perpetual adolescence.

But he saw hope.

The biggest influence we’ve had, he told The Times in 1996, is with younger men who are determined to be better fathers than their own fathers.

Robert Elwood Bly was born in Speaking Lake County, western Minnesota, on December 23, 1926, to Norwegian farmers, Jacob and Alice (Aws) Bly. He graduated from high school in Madison, Minn., (Pop. 600) in 1944, served two years in the Navy, and studied for one year at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn. He was then transferred to Harvard.

One day, while studying a poem by Yeats, I decided to write poetry for the rest of my life, he recalls in a 1984 essay for The Times. I recognized that a single short poem has room for history, music, psychology, religious thought, humor, occult speculation, character, and the events of its own life.

After graduating in 1950, he spent several years in New York to immerse himself in poetry.

In 1955, he married Carol McLean, writer. They had four children, Bridget, Mary, Micah and Noah, and divorced in 1979. In 1980, he married Ruth Ray, a Jungian therapist. Besides her, Mr. Bly is survived by her children; one daughter-in-law, Wesley Dutta; and nine grandchildren. A stepson, Samuel Ray, died in 1984.

Mr. Bly graduated from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1956, then returned to Madison. Thanks to a scholarship, he lived in Norway in 1956-57. In 1958 he founded a poetry magazine, The Fifties, which survived to become The Sixties, The Seventies and The Eighties. He has published works by Federico Garca Lorca, Pablo Neruda and many others.

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