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Raymond Carver
Based on a handout from Mrs Kim's class


Raymond Carver was born in Clatskiane, a small mill town in Oregon on May 25, 1938. During last sober decade of his life he lived in Port Angeles, Washington, where he died of cancer in 1988. He started receiving credit for his work in 1979, where was chosen to be a Guggenheim Fellow, and then twice given grants from the National Endowment of the Arts. In recognition of his hardships and his sacrifices to support his family, in 1983 he was given the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living award, which gave him $35,000 per year tax free and required that he give up any employment other than writing. He was also given the Levinson Prize in 1985 from Poetry magazine for his efforts. Months before his death Carver recieved his final awards: the Brandeis Citation for fiction in 1988 was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Hartford in 1988 as well.

The road to Carver's success as a writer was, to say the least, a bumpy one. He had a hard childhood, and no matter how hard he wished differently his adulthood took the same path as his parents. His father, a raging alcoholic, was not able to support him, and his mother was pulling in the wages of a part-time waitress and having frequent fights with his father. Carver attended a small local school in Yokima, Washington. After his graduation in 1956, he decided to marry his high-school sweetheart, Maryann Burk. At the time, Maryann was only sixteen years old, and only two years later, she gave birth to her two children, Christine and Vance.

Carver's life had some bright spots, but often they were blotched out by his acute alcoholism. Like his father, Carver drank repeatedly, and his family life suffered greatly for it. Carver found most of his inspiration to write his poems in this period, as he could never keep a steady job, and was constantly having ferocious fights with his wife during his drunken spells. Three years after their marriage, the cuple moved to Paradise, California, where Carver would become more interested in writing.

After moving, Carver then enlisted in a creative writing class at Humbolt State College in California. His professor, John Gardner, was a great inspiration to him, as Carver later admitted that when he wrote he often felt Gardner was still looking over his back. He received his BA there in 1963, and used the rest of his life to write his poems and short stories. Whie he wrote these stories, he also traveled the United States to 1983 teaching at different universities, such as Syracuse University and the University of Iowa. Carver's life ended short, but his legacy did not and is still growing. One of his most famous novels, Where I'm Calling From, has been translated into more than twenty languages and growing.

A sample of Raymond Carver's Poetry, and one of his short stories, Cathedral.