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Last Updated: Friday, 11 July, 2003, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
US poet Jacobsen dies
Josephine Jacobsen
Josephine Jacobsen received recognition late in life
Poet and short story-writer Josephine Jacobsen, who served in the post now known as the US poet laureate, has died at the age of 94.

Ms Jacobsen devoted more than 80 years of her life to writing and was nominated for the National Book Award at the age of 88.

In 1971 she was made poetry consultant to the Library of Congress - a position that has since been renamed the US poet laureate.

She died of kidney failure at the Broadmead Retirement Community in Cockeysville, Maryland, on Wednesday.

A memorial Mass will be held at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore in the autumn.

Ms Jacobsen poems regularly appeared in The New Yorker, calling imagination "the active, secret subterranean life".

'Exceptional vernacular'

Her work dealt with family life and the life's problems but critics said it had an underlying sense of optimism.

"Her poetry has a muscular beauty and a deeply appealing gravity," said Alice Quinn, poetry editor of The New Yorker.

"Her use of vernacular speech is exceptional, and her dramatic sense is keen. A cherishing of the world ... is ever present, along with a deep sense of reckoning with death as a supreme fact.

"And she's written marvellous poems about marriage and family bonds."

In 1932, Ms Jacobsen married businessman Eric, who died in 1995.

"She never tried to be a poet," said her son, Erlend Jacobsen.

"It was natural to her. She simply was. It was not assumed."



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