Cole Swensen received her B.A. and M.A. from San Francisco State University and a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Her books include Ours: poems on the gardens of Andre Le Notre (University of California Press, 2008); The Glass Age, (Alice James Books, 2007); The Book of a Hundred Hands (University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2005); Goest (Alice James Books, 2004); Such Rich Hour (2001); Oh (2000); Try (1999), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize; Noon (1997), which won the New American Poetry Series Award; Numen (1995); Park (1991); New Math (1988), which won the National Poetry Series competition; and It's Alive, She Says (1984).
Her translations of contemporary French poetry include Physis (2007, by Nicolas Pesquès); Future, Former, Fugitive (2004, by Olivier Cadiot); Oxo(2004, by Pierre Alferi ); Island of the Dead (2002, Jean Frémon) which was awarded the 2004 PEN USA Award for Literary Translation; Bayart (2001, by Pascalle Monnier); Art Poetic (1999, by Olivier Cadiot), Natural Gaits (1995, by Pierre Alferi), Past Travels (1994, by Olivier Cadiot), and Interrmittances II (1994, by Jean Tortel).
With David St. John, she edited the anthology American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (2009). She is a Contributing Editor for American Letters and Commentary and is the translation editor for How2, and the founder La Presse, an imprint of Fence Books.
About her work, poet Michael Palmer writes:
Cole Swensen attends fixedly to those minute nuances and wanderings of language whereby the poem builds its particular perceptual logic. The result might well be called a "new math," or perhaps a calculus of light, shedding new light on things immediately before the eye.
Swensen is the recipient of a 2006 Guggenheim fellowship. She currently teaches at the University of Iowa.