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Robert Bly's early collection of poems, Silence in the Snowy Fields, was published in 1962, and its plain, imagistic style had considerable influence on American verse of the next two decades.[2] The following year, he published A Wrong Turning in American Poetry, an essay in which he made a case against the influences of Eliot, Pound, Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams, in favour of the more direct work of writers such as Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Antonio Machado, and Rainer Maria Rilke.

In 1966, Bly co-founded American Writers Against the Vietnam War, and went on to lead much of the opposition to that war among writers. When he won the National Book Award for The Light Around the Body, he contributed the prize money to the Resistance. During the 1970s, he published eleven books of poetry, essays, and translations, celebrating the power of myth, Indian ecstatic poetry, meditation, and storytelling. During the 80s he published Loving a Woman in Two Worlds, The Wingéd Life: Selected Poems and Prose of Thoreau, The Man in the Black Coat Turns, and A Little Book on the Human Shadow.

Among his most famous works is Iron John: A Book About Men, an international bestseller which has been translated into many languages. The book is credited with starting the Mythopoetic Men's Movement in the United States. Bly frequently conducts workshops for men with James Hillman, Michael J. Meade, and others, as well as workshops for men and women with Marion Woodman. He has taught at the annual "Great Mother Conference" since 1975. He maintains a friendly correspondence with Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

In 2006 the University of Minnesota purchased Bly's archive which contains more than 80,000 pages of handwritten manuscripts; a journal spanning nearly 50 years; notebooks of his "morning poems"; drafts of translations; hundreds of audio and videotapes, and correspondence with many writers such as James Wright, Donald Hall and James Dickey.

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