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Imagining the Unimaginable: Jorie Graham in Conversation
by Jorie Graham
From the Archive: Jorie Graham
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Jorie Graham
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Jorie Graham
photo: Jeannette Montgomery Barron

Jorie Graham

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 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.

A Selected Bibliography


Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (Princeton University Press, 1980)
Erosion (1983)
The End of Beauty (Ecco, 1987)
Region of Unlikeness (1991)
Materialism (1993)
The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 (Ecco, 1995)
The Errancy (1997)
Swarm (2000)
Never (2002)
Sea Change (2008)


From the Image Archive
Poems by
Jorie Graham

Just Before
Nearing Dawn
San Sepolcro
Spoken From the Hedgerows

Read by
Jorie Graham

Her Body [The Signature] by Daniel Halpern
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea (Sonnet 65) by William Shakespeare

Prose by
Jorie Graham

Imagining the Unimaginable: Jorie Graham in Conversation
Introduction to Best American Poetry 1990
Jorie Graham on Joshua Clover's Madonna Anno Domini
The Glorious Thing: Jorie Graham and Mark Wunderlich in Conversation
Video: On the European Mentality

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