George Scarbrough was born in a clapboard cabin in Patty, Polk County, TN, in 1915. He was the third of seven children in a family of sharecroppers which moved frequently around the County during his early years. He was an avid reader from his earliest years, and showed literary inclinations which seemed very strange in the County at the time. George attended the University of Tennessee in 1935-36, the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, for two years on scholarship during the war in 1941-43 and then taught at several schools. He entered LMU and graduated with a B.A. degree cum laude in 1947. He received a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1954, and later attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
He has published poetry in more than 65 magazines and journals over many years, and was published in poetry five times in 1997. He has also published five major books of poetry and one novel. Scarbrough’s first book of poetry, Tellico Blue, was published by E.P. Dutton in New York in 1949. Dutton also published two additional Scarbrough books of poetry: The Counse is Upward (1951) and Summer So-Called in 1956. Iris Press published Scarbrough’s New and Selected Poems in 1977, and it was greeted with widespread acclaim. St. Lake’s Press published Invitation to Kim in `1989, and it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1990. Iris Audio Publications published an audio tape of Scarbrough reading and commenting upon a selection of his poetry in 1997. The tape is called Ice Storm and Other Poems read by the Author, George Scarbrough.
Critics have been uniformly ecstatic about George Scarbrough’s writing over the years, and it seems clear that he will occupy an important place in 20th century literature.