Originally from San Diego, John Koethe was born on December 25, 1945. He began writing poetry in 1964, during his undergraduate studies at Princeton University and went on to receive a PhD in philosophy from Harvard University.
Koethe's most recent book, Ninety-fifth Street won the 2010 Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His first collection of poetry is Blue Vents (Audit/Poetry, 1968). His second collection, Domes (Columbia University Press, 1974), won the Frank O'Hara Award for Poetry. He has published numerous other collections including, Falling Water (Harper Perennial, 1997), which won the Kingsley Tufts Award, and North Point North: New and Selected Poems (2003), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
As critic Robert Hahn notes, "Koethe's poetry is ultimately lyrical, and its claim on us comes not from philosophy's dream of precision but from the common human dream that our lives make some kind of sense. What Koethe offers is not ideas but a weave of reflection, emotion, and music; what he creates is arta bleak, harrowing art in all it chooses to confront, but one whose rituals and repetitions contain the hope of renewal."
Koethe is also the author of a collection of essays, Poetry at One Remove (University of Michigan Press, 2000) and scholarly work, including The Continuity of Wittgenstein's Thought (Cornell University Press, 1996).
He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Koethe's work has been nominated for The New Yorker Book Award and the Boston Book Review Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, and received a lifetime achievement award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. From 2000 through 2002, he served as Milwaukee's first poet laureate.
Koethe served as the Elliston Poet in Residence at the University of Cincinnati and as the Bain-Swiggett Professor of Poetry at Princeton University in 2010. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where he resides with his wife.