Glyn Maxwell was born in 1962 in Welwyn Garden City, England. He studied English at Oxford University and both poetry and theatre with Derek Walcott at Boston University.
His first book of poetry, Tale of the Mayor's Son was published in 1990. Since then, he has published several collections, including Out of the Rain (1992), for which he received a Somerset Maugham Award; Rest for the Wicked (1995), which was shortlisted for both the Whitbread Poetry Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize; and The Breakage (1998), which was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot and the Forward Poetry (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) Prizes.
In 1996, Maxwell moved to the United States to teach at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Since, he has taught at Columbia University and The New School in New York City.
Most recently, he is the author of The Sugar Mile (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), an ambitious narrative collection that dramatizes several stories at once. According to the publisher, "The Sugar Mile juxtaposes two cities on the brink of irrevocable change. It begins when the poet steps into an uptown Manhattan bar a few days before September 11, 2001. He is confronted by Joseph Stone, a barstool regular and fellow expatriate." Stone reminisces about September 7, 1940, "Black Saturday" in London, resulting in a humorous, suspenseful, and historical account as the brief intersection of characters' lives is acted out.
Other recent collections include The Nerve (2002), which won the 2004 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize; Time's Fool (2000), and The Boys at Twilight: Poems 1990-1995 (2000)—each of which was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
He has also written a number of plays, including Broken Journey (1999), which was a Time Out Critics' Choice, and The Forever Waltz, which premiered in New York in 2005. His novel, Blue Burneau (1994), was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award.
About Maxwell's work, the poet Joseph Brodsky has said, "Glyn Maxwell covers a greater distance in a single line than most people do in a poem. There is an extraordinary propulsion in his work, owing in part to his tendency to draw metaphor from syntax itself. He is a poet of immense promise and unforgettable delivery."
Maxwell is currently adapting Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose for Moving Pictures Theatre Company. He is the poetry editor of the New Republic. He lives in New York.