Larry Rubin – New Georgia Encyclopedia

Larry Jerome Rubin published hundreds of poems in literary magazines and four volumes of select verse after moving to Atlanta in 1950. He began a long academic career as an English professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1956.

Although Rubin appeared in several collections of contemporary southern poets, his poems focused on historical imagery and the inner self rather than a particular time or place. Rubin was a self-proclaimed Romantic poet whose inspirations included Emily Dickinson and whose writing included several articles on American Romantic literature.

Larry Rubin
Courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Rubin was born in 1930 in Bayonne, New Jersey, the son of Lillian Strongin and Abraham Joseph Rubin. Raised in Miami Beach, Florida, he studied briefly at Columbia University in New York (1949-1950) and earned degrees in journalism (BA, 1951; MA, 1952) and English (Ph.D., 1956) at Emory University in Atlanta. Immediately after receiving his doctorate, he became an instructor at Georgia Tech and eventually became a full professor. After receiving a Smith-Mundt Prize from the US State Department, Rubin taught American Literature during the 1961–62 academic year at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. He also spent three years abroad as a visiting Fulbright scholar – at the University of Bergen in Norway in 1966-67, at the Free University of West Berlin in 1969-70, and at the University of Innsbruck in 1971-72.

Rubin had already published many poems in literary magazines when “Instructions for Dying” won the Reynolds Lyric Award from the Poetry Society of America in 1961. His first volume of poetry, The old way of the world, appeared in 1962. Its introductory poem, “The Bachelor”, introduced Rubin’s iconic character, the bachelor-poet. In a Faustian vow to life as a solitary artist, he traded the prospect of immortality through his children for a childless life spent conjuring the magic of words. The old way of the world won the Georgia Writers Association’s Literary Achievement Award and Oglethorpe University’s Sidney Lanier Award (named after Georgian poet Sidney Lanier) for a debut collection of poetry.

In 1965, the Poetry Society of New Hampshire presented its John Holmes Memorial Award to Rubin for the poem “For Parents, Out of Sight”, one line of which provided the title for his next collection. Thrown into the light (1967) explored the theme of time and its transformation of life and love. The Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists named him Georgia Poet of the Year in 1967 for Thrown into the light and again in 1975 for All my mirrors liehis third book.

All my mirrors lie represented the poet-celibate in middle age, his gaze traversing the various “mirrors” of self reflected in his relations with the living and the dead. The collection included “The Bachelor, as Professor”, for which Rubin received a Lyric Award from the Poetry Society of America in 1973. Unanswered callsRubin’s fourth book, appeared in 1997. In it, he expanded the territory he surveyed in the chapbook All my mirrors lie to include the perspectives of an aging poet facing his accumulated memories and ghosts and looking forward to decay and death.

After retiring from Georgia Tech in 1999, Rubin continued to travel and write. A career member of the College English Association, a professional organization of teachers and researchers, he led the association’s annual poetry workshop. In 2001, the CEA presented Rubin with its Life Membership Award. Emory University holds a collection of Rubin’s papers, which he donated before his death in 2018.

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