Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Office of News & Public Affairs

"Poetries of the Stranger" Festival

all biographies courtesty of poets.org

John AsberyJohn Ashbery
Born in Rochester, New York, he is author of more than twenty books of poetry, most recently A Worldly Country (Ecco, 2007); Where Shall I Wander (2005); Chinese Whispers (2002); Your Name Here (2000); Girls on the Run: A Poem (1999); Wakefulness (1998); Can You Hear, Bird (1995); And the Stars Were Shining (1994); Hotel Lautrémont (1992); Flow Chart (1991); and April Galleons (1987).

Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for poetry. His collection A Wave (1984) won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award; and Some Trees (1956) was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Series.

He has also published Other Traditions: the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures (2000); Reported Sightings (1989), a book of art criticism; a collection of plays; and a novel, A Nest of Ninnies (1969), with James Schuyler; and edited The Best American Poetry 1988.

He was also the first English-language poet to win the Grand Prix de Biennales Internationales de Poésie (Brussels), and has also received the the Bollingen Prize, the English Speaking Union Prize, the Feltrinelli Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, two Ingram Merrill Foundation grants, the MLA Common Wealth Award in Literature, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, the Frank O'Hara Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the Fulbright Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

A former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets, he divides his time between New York City and Hudson, New York.

Lucie Brock-BroidoLucie Brock-Broido
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, she received her B.A. and her M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her books of poetry include Trouble in Mind (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), The Master Letters (1995), and A Hunger (1988).

In a New York Times review of Brock-Broido's most recent collection, Maureen N. McLane writes: "Apprenticed to Wallace Stevens, from whose notebooks she takes the titles of several poems, she writes a sensual, sonically rich poetry, typified by the opening of "Spain": 'The god-leash leaves / Its lashes on the broad bunched backs / Of sacrificial animals.' This acoustic gorgeousness, along with her highly figurative cast of mind, creates a striking tension: her new theme is austerity, yet her means remain profligate."

Her awards and honors include the Witter-Bynner prize of Poetry from the Academy of American Arts and Letters, the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, the Harvard-Danforth Award for Distinction in Teaching, the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from American Poetry Review, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a Guggenheim fellowship.

Brock-Broido has taught at Bennington College, Princeton University, and at Harvard University as the director of the creative writing program and as Briggs-Copeland Poet. She is now the director of poetry in the Writing Division in the School of the Arts at Columbia University, and divides her time between New York City and Cambridge, Mass.

Henri ColeHenri Cole
Born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1956 and raised in Virginia, he received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary in 1978, his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in 1980, and his M.F.A. from Columbia University in 1982.

His volumes of poetry include: Blackbird and Wolf (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007), the 2008 recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Middle Earth (2003), which received the 2004 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; The Visible Man (1998); The Look of Things (1995); The Zoo Wheel of Knowledge (1989); and The Marble Queen (1986).

About his own work, Cole writes: "In my own poems, I have grown accustomed to astringency; there is no longer any compulsion to hide or temper the truth, as there was when I was setting out twenty years ago. I do not want to relive what I have felt or seen or hoped along the way, but I do want to extract some illustrative figures, as I do from the parables in the Bible, to help me persevere each day at my writing table, where I must confront myself, overcome any fear of what I might find there, and begin assembling language into poetry."

Cole's awards and honors include the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

From 1982 until 1988 Cole was executive director of The Academy of American Poets. Since then he has held many teaching positions and been the artist-in-residence at various institutions, including Smith College, Reed College, Brandeis, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale Universities. He lives in Boston, MA.

Jorie GrahamJorie Graham
Born in New York City in 1950, she is the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor. She was raised in Rome, Italy and educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.

Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Sea Change (Ecco, 2008), Never (2002), Swarm (2000), and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

About her work, James Longenbach wrote in the New York Times: "For 30 years Jorie Graham has engaged the whole human contraption — intellectual, global, domestic, apocalyptic — rather than the narrow emotional slice of it most often reserved for poems. She thinks of the poet not as a recorder but as a constructor of experience. Like Rilke or Yeats, she imagines the hermetic poet as a public figure, someone who addresses the most urgent philosophical and political issues of the time simply by writing poems."

Graham has also edited two anthologies, Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language (1996) and The Best American Poetry 1990.

Her many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. She served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.

Fanny HoweFanny Howe
Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1940, she is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose. Her recent collections of poetry include On the Ground (Graywolf, 2004), Gone (2003), Selected Poems (2000), Forged (1999), Q (1998), One Crossed Out (1997), O'Clock (1995), and The End (1992).

Howe is also the author of several novels and prose collections, most recently, The Lives of a Spirit / Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken (Nightboat Books, 2005) and Nod (Sun & Moon Press, 1998). She has written short stories, books for young adults, and the collection of literary essays The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life (University of California Press, 2003).

Howe was the recipient of the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her Selected Poems. She has also won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Foundation, the California Council for the Arts, and the Village Voice, as well as fellowships from the Bunting Institute and the MacArthur Colony. She was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2001 and 2005. She has lectured in creative writing at Tufts University, Emerson College, Columbia University, Yale University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mark StrandMark Strand
Born on Canada's Prince Edward Island on April 11, 1934, he received a B.A. degree from Antioch College in Ohio in 1957 and attended Yale University, where he was awarded the Cook prize and the Bergin prize. After receiving his B.F.A. degree in 1959, Strand spent a year studying at the University of Florence on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1962 he received his M.A. degree from the University of Iowa.

He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Man and Camel (Knopf, 2006); Blizzard of One (1998), which won the Pulitzer Prize; Dark Harbor (1993); The Continuous Life (1990); Selected Poems (1980); The Story of Our Lives (1973); and Reasons for Moving (1968).

He has also published two books of prose, several volumes of translation (of works by Rafael Alberti and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, among others), several monographs on contemporary artists, and three books for children. He has edited a number of volumes, including 100 Great Poems of the Twentieth Century (W. W. Norton, 2005), The Golden Ecco Anthology (1994), The Best American Poetry 1991, and Another Republic: 17 European and South American Writers (with Charles Simic, 1976).

His honors include the Bollingen Prize, three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the 1974 Edgar Allen Poe Prize from The Academy of American Poets, and a Rockefeller Foundation award, as well as fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation.

He has served as Poet Laureate of the United States and is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. He currently teaches English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.

James TateJames Tate
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 8, 1943; his father was an American pilot killed in the Second World War in 1944, when Tate was five months old.

His first collection of poems, The Lost Pilot (1967), was selected by Dudley Fitts for the Yale Series of Younger Poets while Tate was a still student at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, making him one of the youngest poets to receive the honor.

The collection was well-received, and influenced a generation of poets in the late sixties and seventies with its use of dream logic and psychological play. In a 1998 radio review, the critic Dana Gioia said about the debut: "Tate had domesticated surrealism. He had taken this foreign style, which had almost always seemed slightly alien in English—even among its most talented practitioners like Charles Simic and Donald Justice—and had made it sound not just native but utterly down-home."

Tate published prolifically over the next two decades, including The Oblivion Ha-Ha (1970); Hints to Pilgrims (1971); Absences (1972); Viper Jazz (1976); Constant Defender (1983); Distance from Loved Ones (1990); and Selected Poems (1991), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award.

Since then, he has published several collections of poems, most recently The Ghost Soldiers (Ecco Press, 2008); Return to the City of White Donkeys (2004); Memoir of the Hawk (2001); Shroud of the Gnome (1997); and Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994), which won the National Book Award.

Tate has also published various works of prose, including a short story collection Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee (Wave Books, 2001), a collection of critical prose, The Route as Briefed (University of Michigan Press, 1999), and a collaborative novel (with poet Bill Knott), Lucky Darryl (Release Press, 1977). He also served as editor of The Best American Poetry 1997.

About his work, the poet John Ashbery wrote in the New York Times: "Local color plays a role, but the main event is the poet's wrestling with passing moments, frantically trying to discover the poetry there and to preserve it, perishable as it is. Tate is the poet of possibilities, of morph, of surprising consequences, lovely or disastrous, and these phenomena exist everywhere... I return to Tate's books more often perhaps than to any others when I want to be reminded afresh of the possibilities of poetry."

Tate's honors include a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, a 1995 Tanning Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2001, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Derek WalcottDerek Walcott
The recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in Castries, Saint Lucia, the West Indies, on January 23, 1930. His first published poem, "1944" appeared in The Voice of St. Lucia when he was fourteen years old, and consisted of 44 lines of blank verse. By the age of nineteen, Walcott had self published two volumes, 25 Poems (1948) and Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949), exhibiting a wide range of influences, including William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound.

He later attended the University of the West Indies, having received a Colonial Development and Welfare scholarship, and in 1951 published the volume Poems.

In 1957, he was awarded a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation to study the American theater. Since then, he has published numerous collections of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007), The Prodigal: A Poem (2004), and Tiepolo's Hound (2000).

The founder of the Trinidad Theater Workshop, Walcott has also written several plays produced throughout the United States, The Odyssey: A Stage Version (1992); The Isle is Full of Noises (1982); Remembrance and Pantomime (1980); The Joker of Seville and O Babylon! (1978); Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays (1970); Three Plays: The Last Carnival; Beef, No Chicken; and A Branch of the Blue Nile (1969). His play Dream on Monkey Mountain won the Obie Award for distinguished foreign play of 1971. He founded Boston Playwrights' Theatre at Boston University in 1981. His first collection of essays, What the Twilight Says (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), was published in 1998.

About his work, the poet Joseph Brodsky said, "For almost forty years his throbbing and relentless lines kept arriving in the English language like tidal waves, coagulating into an archipelago of poems without which the map of modern literature would effectively match wallpaper. He gives us more than himself or 'a world'; he gives us a sense of infinity embodied in the language."

Walcott's honors include a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, and, in 1988, the Queen's Medal for Poetry. He is an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

He currently divides his time between his home in St. Lucia and New York City.

Adam ZagajewskiAdam Zagajewski

Poet, novelist, and essayist born in Lwów in 1945, he spent his childhood in Silesia and then in Cracow, where he graduated from Jagiellonian University. Zagajewski first became well known as one of the leading poets of the Generation of '68' or the Polish New Wave (Nowa fala).

He is one of Poland's most famous contemporary poets. Among his collections are Pragnienie (Cracow: a5, 1999); Ziemia ognista (1994); Jechac do Lwowa (1985); Sklepy miesne (1975); and Komunikat (1972). His books of poetry in English include Mysticism for Beginners (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997. Translated by Clare Cavanaugh); Tremor (1985, translated by Renata Gorczyñski); and Canvas (1991, translated by Renata Gorczyñski, B. Ivry, and C. K. Williams). He is also the author of a memoir, Another Beauty (2000, translated by Clare Cavanagh) and the prose collections, Two Cities (1995, translated by Lillian Vallee) and Solitude and Solidarity (1990, translated by Lillian Vallee).

His poems and essays have been translated into many languages. Among his honors and awards are a fellowship from the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm, the Kurt Tucholsky Prize, a Prix de la Liberté, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Since 1988, he has served as Visiting Associate Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. He is currently co-editor of Zeszyty literackie (Literary Review), which is published in Paris. Adam Zagajewski lives in Paris and Houston.