poem index

About this poet

Born in Suffern, New York on September 9, 1942, Linda Gregg grew up in Marin County, California. She received her BA and MA from San Francisco State University.

Her first book of poems, Too Bright to See, was published in 1981. Since then, she has published several collections of poetry, including: All of It Singing (Graywolf Press, 2008), the 2009 recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; In the Middle Distance (2006); Things and Flesh (1999); Chosen by the Lion (1994); The Sacraments of Desire (1991); Alma (1985); and Eight Poems (1982).

About Gregg's work, the poet W. S. Merwin has said, "I have loved Linda Gregg's poems since I first read them. They are original in the way that really matters: they speak clearly of their source. They are inseparable from the surprising, unrolling, eventful, pure current of their language, and they convey at once the pain of individual loss, a steady and utterly personal radiance."

Gregg's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Whiting Writer's Award, as well as multiple Pushcart Prizes. She was the 2003 winner of the Sara Teasdale Award and the 2006 PEN/Voelcker Award winner for Poetry.

She has taught at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, and the University of California at Berkeley. She currently lives in New York and teaches at Princeton University.

Surrounded by Sheep and Low Ground

Linda Gregg, 1942
When death comes, we take off our clothes
and gather everything we left behind:
what is dark, broken, touched with shame.
When Death demands we give an accounting,
naked we present our lives in bundles.
See how much these weigh, we tell him,
refusing to deny what we have lived.
Everything that is touched by light 
loves the light. We the stubborn-as-grass,
we who reel at the taste of sap and want
our spirits cleansed, will not betray
the weeds, snake, or crippled mare.
Never leave behind what the light shone on.

From All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems by Linda Gregg. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Gregg. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

Linda Gregg

Linda Gregg

The author of several collections of poetry, Linda Gregg's collection All of It Singing was the recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

by this poet

poem
What things are steadfast? Not the birds.
Not the bride and groom who hurry
in their brevity to reach one another.
The stars do not blow away as we do.
The heavenly things ignite and freeze.
But not as my hair falls before you.
Fragile and momentary, we continue.
Fearing madness in all things huge
and their
poem
Very long ago when the exquisite celadon bowl
that was the mikado's favorite cup got broken,
no one in Japan had the skill and courage
to mend it. So the pieces were taken back
to China with a plea to the emperor
that it be repaired. When the bowl returned, 
it was held together with heavy iron staples.
The
poem
When I say transparency, I don't mean seeing through. 
I mean the way a symbol is made when an X is drawn over O.
As the world moves when it is named. In the sense 
of truth by consciousness, which we translate as opposites.
The space we breathe is also called distance.
Presence gives. Absence allows and calls,