Born in Burnaby, British Columbia, Daryl Hine attended McGill University and lived in Paris before attending the University of Chicago, where he taught classics and assumed editorship of the prestigious magazine Poetry in 1968, a position he held for a decade. In that same year, Minutes, his first substantial volume of poems, appeared. Since then Hine has had a faithful following among poetry lovers, especially those with a taste for classical learning, formal elegance, and wit. While Hine’s earlier volumes were allusively erotic, the poems were never explicitly homosexual. Hine chose to write of his own homosexual awakening and early romantic experience in a verse autobiography, In and Out, which he first published in a small-press edition in 1975. It relates how he fell in love while at McGill, and how he tried to suppress consciousness of his sexual difference through Catholic practice and discipline. Harold Bloom, one of the most influential American critics, warmly praised In and Out, and publisher Alfred A. Knopf brought it before a wider audience in 1989. Meanwhile, the appearance of Academic Festival Overtures (1985) gave explicit poetic attention to Hine’s adolescent experience of sexuality. In his more mature poems, Hine chose a subtle, gently ironic mode to communicate the young male’s tangled process of identifying, repressing, and then accepting his sexuality. The poems he produced in this mode are scintillating and yet touched with profound feeling. Though they will never reach a wide audience, they are among the best American classicist poems of the last half-century. Patrick Holland
Howard, Richard. Alone with America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States Since 1950 . New York: Atheneum, 1969.