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.
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.
1981 – The 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.
1985 – Jim and Norma move to Columbia, NC, near the Outer Banks.
March 16, 1986 – After I’m Dead, Will My Life Begin? is published.
1987 – Jim and Norma move from Columbia to Charlotte.
March 31, 1988 – The Athlete is published.
July 1988 – Jim and Norma move from Charlotte, to Yonkers, NY.
June 10, 1989 – Ice 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, 1996 – Bud is published
March 1, 1997 – Siz is published.
December 24, 1997 – Lef is published.
March 1, 1998 – Mize & Kathy is published.
September 9, 1998 – Paying the Price is published.
January 5, 2000 – In Pursuit of Honor published.
April 2000 – Paying the Price and In Pursuit of Honor are added to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, NY.
March 31, 2006 – Naked 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.