About the Author
McGrath is likely North Dakota’s most famous poet, known best for his Letter to an Imaginary Friend (Denver: A. Swallow, 1962; Parts I & II, Chicago: Swallow, 1970; Copper Canyon Press, 1985, 1997). McGrath's sprawling semi-autobiographical epic is among America's greatest long poems. Detailing his own history as representative of a national struggle toward consciousness, McGrath is justly famous for his line, "Dakota is everywhere."
Born in 1916 in Ransom County, near the small town of Sheldon in the Sheyenne River Valley, McGrath was the son of second-generation Irish Catholic farmers. He had four brothers and one sister. He attended college at Moorhead State University and later the University of North Dakota where he received a degree in 1939. McGrath was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, which he could not use until 1947, after World War II had ended.
McGrath worked at a variety of professions, including teaching, while he continued to write both poetry and screenplays for the movie industry. He eventually taught at both North Dakota State University and Moorhead State University until his retirement and move to Minneapolis.
Also of particular note in the McGrath corpus is The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems (Chicago: Swallow, 1973) with poems of war, class struggle, social protest, and love.
Other poetry books include these titles:
Passages Toward the Dark (1982)
Letter to an Imaginary Friend, Parts Three and Four (1985)
New and Selected Poems (1964).
Letter to an Imaginary Friend