February 20, 1939 – Born in Sioux City, IA.

1944 – Father divorces mother. Mother marries stepfather. Subjected to constant physical abuse from alcoholic stepfather.

1945 – Fails first grade because he stutters but with help from a caring English teacher, learns to speak and read aloud without hesitation.

1948 – Jimmie is infected with Polio during the U.S. epidemic. Doctors said he would be lucky to walk again. Six months later he left the hospital—running.

1952 – South Dakota Dairy Association awards Humphrey first place in a statewide essay contest while in eighth grade.

1952 – Angelo Dundee, boxing manager for Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, visits Brookings, SD, to witness featherweight Humphrey fight but the youngster declines Dundee’s training offer.

1955 – St. Louis Cardinals scout young Humphrey and are so impressed they ask him to try out when he’s old enough.

1956 – Punches stepfather and leaves home in Arizona, never to return. Heads for Waterloo, IA, tries to finish high school but is kicked out because he doesn’t live with a legal guardian.

1957 – Joins the Air Force but is released soon thereafter on a medical discharge while stationed in Greenland.

1958 – First poem published. “A Fallen Man Searching

1959 – Marries first wife.

1960 – Seperates from wife.

1960 – Begins self-taught writing apprenticeship.

1963 – Moves to rooming house on West 4th. Meets Norma Van Vooren.

February 1966 – Jim marries Norma Van Vooren in Waterloo.

December 1966 – The couple's only child is born to Jim and Norma at Waterloo General Hospital. He’s named after William Saroyan.

August 1968 – Norma graduates from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Library Science. The family moves to Marshalltown, IA.

1968 – Humphrey declares writing apprenticeship concluded with over 600 fully realized poems and 30 short stories as final drafts. He also starts growing a full beard.

1968 – Begins teaching poetry writing workshops at Marshalltown Community College.

1968-’69 – Humphrey is the founding editor of a contemporary poetry journal, captain may i. Ted Berrigan is the guest poet.

September 1, 1969 – The family moves from Marshalltown to East Falmouth, MA, to “eat fresh saltwater fish for the first time” and begin a new life.

December 18, 1970 – Humphrey’s first book of poetry is published, Argument for Love by Sumac Press. It is praised by William Saroyan, Darrell Gray, Brendan Galvin and Andrew Glaze. It’s also nominated for a Pultizer Prize.

1971-’74 – With grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Humphrey teaches poetry writing at colleges in Iowa, Arizona and New England.

1972The Visitor, and An Homage The End of Some More Land are published.

1972 & 1973 – Humphrey receives Authors League of America and P.E.N. Awards

1974 – The family leaves Cape Cod to live in Attleboro, MA, where Norma takes a job in the public school system as a librarian.

1974 – Humphrey quits drinking alcohol and enters Rhode Island College and later Brown University under a special student program.

1975 – Humphrey authors the poetry writing curriculum for Massachusetts Public Schools. It’s later adapted by other school systems throughout the United States.

1975 – Three discs in Humphrey’s lower back rupture. Othopedic surgeons suggest Jim stay in bed for as much as 20-22 hours per day. Recovery is slow.

May 7, 1976 – A critically-acclaimed second poetry volume, The Re-Learning, is published.

1977 – Teaches creative writing at South Boston High School during forced racial integration at the inner-city school. Humphrey receives anonymous death threats and is warned to stop teaching because his writing is viewed as obscene by a small group of parents.

May 1977 – With distinction, Jim graduates from Brown University (Providence, RI) with an BA/MA in English/Creative Writing.

1977 – Jim is the poetry editor of literary arts journal, AnyArt.

1980 – Receives the Poetry Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the PEN American Center Award.

Summer 1981 – Jim teaches creative writing at College Academy (a school designated for children in grades 4-8 with IQs over 125) in Framingham, MA. The family moves from Attleboro to Woodland Park, CO, where Jim is promised a teaching position. In the fall, classes are cancelled due to budget cuts.

1981The 5¢ Poem is published. 

1982 – Humphreys’ move to Greensboro, NC from Colorado. Norma takes a librarian position at UNC-Greensboro.

1982 – Back pain worsens after a fall. X-rays show continued deterioration of vertebrae throughout spinal column. Doctors confirm the damage was caused by heavy blows years earlier—the ultimate result of childhood beatings. Chronic sciatica pain continues.

1984 – A two-book poetry series, In New York City Air and In Tribute To Survivors are published.

1985 – Jim and Norma move to Columbia, NC, near the Outer Banks.

March 16, 1986After I’m Dead, Will My Life Begin? is published.

1987 – Jim and Norma move from Columbia to Charlotte.

March 31, 1988The Athlete is published.

July 1988 – Jim and Norma move from Charlotte, to Yonkers, NY.

June 10, 1989Ice is published.

April 1992 – Humphrey loses vision in left eye after he is knocked over by a baggage cart in Grand Central Station, also further damaging his spine.

1994-95 – Works in privately-run homeless shelter for abused kids of Westchester County, NY.

April 1, 1996Bud is published

March 1, 1997Siz is published.

December 24, 1997Lef is published.

March 1, 1998Mize & Kathy is published.

September 9, 1998Paying the Price is published.

January 5, 2000In Pursuit of Honor published.

April 2000Paying the Price and In Pursuit of Honor are added to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, NY.

March 31, 2006Naked Poems Selected and New 1969-2006 published.

April 7, 2006 – Jim reads publicly for the final time at Yonkers Public Library.

May 3, 2008 – Jim celebrates the opening of his gallery show at Secrets Gallery in Hastings on Hudson, NY.

May 21, 2008 – Humphrey dies of cardiac arrest at home in Yonkers.

June-October 2008 – Humphrey’s poem ‘Today’ waves on an environmental art banner in downtown Hastings on Hudson.

November 19, 2011 – Featuring Eve West Bessier, Lawrence Dinkins, Bob Stanley and Mary Zeppa, a benefit for the Stanford Home For Children is held as a celebration of James Humphrey at Sacramento Poetry Center. The event also features the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet.

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