James Dickey (February 2, 1923 - January 19, 1997) was a popular United States poet and novelist.
He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a lawyer, Eugene Dickey, and his wife, Maibelle Swift Dickey. He attended North Fulton High School in Buckhead, an Atlanta suburb.
In 1942, he enrolled at Clemson University and played on the football team as a tailback. After one semester, he left school to enlist in the Army Air Corps. Dickey served in the U.S. Army night fighter squadrons in the Second World War, and in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean war. Between the wars, he attended Vanderbilt University, graduating with degrees in English and Philosophy, as well as achieving a minor in astronomy. In November 1948, he married Maxine Syerson, and his son, Christopher, was born three years later. A second son, Kevin, was born in 1958. A daughter, Bronwen, was born in 1979. is a novelist and journalist, lately providing coverage from the Middle East for Newsweek. Kevin is a radiologist and lives in New England.
His first book, Into the Stone, was published in 1962. "Buckdancer's Choice" earned Dickey a National Book Award in 1966. Among his better known early poems are "The Firebombing," "May Day Sermon","The Heaven of Animals", "For The Last Wolverine" and "Falling".
His popularity exploded after the film version of his novel Deliverance, starring Burt Reynolds, was released in 1972. Dickey played a supporting role in the film as a sheriff.
The poet was invited to read his poem "The Strength of Fields" at President Jimmy Carter's inauguration in 1977.
James Dickey died four days after his last class at the University of South Carolina, where he'd been teaching. Dickey spent a few years in and out of hospital, afflicted with first jaundice and later fibrosis of the lungs.