People / Warren Tallman

Writer, educator. Warren Tallman was born in Seattle on November 17, 1921. He attended the University of California at Berkley, where he wrote his dissertation on Henry James and Joseph Conrad. There he met and married fellow student Ellen King. The young couple accepted teaching positions at the University of British Columbia in 1956. There, they helped Earle Birney and Roy Daniells organize the creative writing department. Tallman co-edited the widely used text, Poetics of the New American Poetry (Grove Press, 1973), authored a collection of essays Godawful Streets of Man (Coach House Press, 1978), and a collection of literary criticism, In the Midst (Talonbooks, 1992).

However, Tallman is primarily remembered for his role as an educator and literary provocateur. He organized a poetry conference in 1963 attended by Denise Levertov, Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan, Margaret Avison, and Phillip Whalen. The Tallman home also acted as a locus for important literary talent, such as Jack Spicer and Robert Creeley. His advocacy of the Black Mountain School, the Beats, the New American Poets, and the Language Poets had a profound impact upon his students. Tallman was arguably the catalyst for the TISH movement, which emerged from a group of University of British Columbia English students. He passed away in 1994.