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Jorie Graham

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  • Awards
  • Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, 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 PLACE (2012) which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, 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.
     'Fast might immerse us in monstrous acts of environmental and political violence, our obsession with progress, money, and our own individualistic, virtual worlds, but what still succeeds is the wish to live on. Perhaps if we were to listen to that wish we might, amongst all the acceleration, stop and think again.'
    - The London Magazine


    'One of the finest poets writing today.'
    John Ashbery
    'She is among the most important poets in North American literature today.'
    Peyton Brien, University of Toronto, 1995
    'Jorie Graham is a poet of staggering intelligence.'
    James Tate
     'There is a buoyancy in Graham's poetry, a freshness of vision which is rare in contemporary poetry.'
    Roger Caldwell, Times Literary Supplement, 27th June 2003
     'After each new book by Graham, I wonder what she will do next. Her courage in remaking her style over the years is exemplary... to read under Graham's powerful impetus is to have one's consciousness, like molten glass, pulled into unforeseen - and sometimes almost unbearable - shapes.'
    Helen Vendler, London Review of Books, 23rd January 2003
      '...one of our most highly imaginative and innovative poets. Her speculative and sensual poetry echoes an aesthetic and cultural past but is, truly, like nothing we've seen before.'
    David St. John, The Los Angeles Times, 1996
     'There are erotic poems, elegiac poems, and there are dauntingly difficult, allusive and even impenetrable poems. Throughout there is a powerful, engaging intelligence and an affirming lyric grace.'
    Stephen Matterson on The Errancy, in Poetry Ireland Review, vol. 62
     'Like all good poets, she illuminates moments, but she is like no one else, neither in her rhythms, nor in her insistence on opening up, scrutinizing, and even reversing our experience of time and space within these moments.'
    Stephen Burt, Times Literary Supplement, 17th May 1996
     'Graham shows us a future direction in American poetry, and that future is a welcome place.'
    The Harvard Review
     'A mesmerising American voice; one wants to hear its continuation.'
    Helen Vendler, The New Yorker
    Awards won by Jorie Graham Commended, 2017 Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
    (Fast)
    Winner, 1996 Pulitzer Prize
    (The Dream of the Unified Field)
    Short-listed, 2012 T S Eliot Prize (P L A C E) Short-listed, 2012 Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection (P L A C E)
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