Thom Gunn’s (British expatriate turned American poet) work explores the homosexual psyche and culture. Through the 1950s to 1980s when many of Gunn’s best known works were published, homosexuality was objectionable and difficult to make understandable. Nonetheless, Gunn writes about it elegantly, with modest but increasingly frank verse, communicating and illuminating the inherently unclear. Critics argue that homosexual themes are absent from Gunn’s early works. These themes are in fact quite present, but expressed through purposefully unclear language. Simply, in the 1950s and 1960s, it would have been difficult for openly gay poetry to be published or achieve any readership. Gunn came from an English background at Trinity College, Cambridge. After publishing his first book of poems, "Fighting Terms," he emigrated California to teach at Stanford University. In the United States, Gunn developed his voice and level of comfort concerning homosexual themes, particularly evident in later works such as “The Man with Night Sweats.” Gunn’s poetry is exemplary in terms of expressing sexual direction without forcing it upon his readers.
"The Development and Exposure of Homosexuality as a Subject in Thom Gunn’s Poetry,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2010
, Article 23.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2010/iss1/23