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About this poet

Lloyd Schwartz was born on November 29, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Queens College of the City University of New York in 1962 and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1976.

Schwartz's most recent book of poetry is Cairo Traffic (University of Chicago Press, 2000), which was preceded by Goodnight, Gracie (University of Chicago Press, 1992) and These People (Wesleyan University Press, 1981). He is also editor of two volumes of collected works by Elizabeth Bishop: Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose and Letters (Library of America, 2008), which he co-edited with Robert Giroux, and Prose (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). Schwartz's most recent book, Music In—and On—the Air (PFP, 2013), is a collection of his music reviews that appeared on NPR's Fresh Air.  

About his work, the poet Richard Howard has said: "The poet has extended his reach as well as his grasp, and we are the richer for it, through no less ravaged: these people (and these poems) are devastated by life, of which they offer us, unnervingly, the flagrant shards."

His poems, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and The Best American Poetry series. In 1994, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Schwartz has taught at Boston State College, Queens College, and Harvard University, and is currently Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He is also the senior editor of classical music for New York Arts and a regular commentator on NPR's Fresh Air.

A True Poem

Lloyd Schwartz, 1941
I'm working on a poem that's so true, I can't show it to anyone.

I could never show it to anyone.

Because it says exactly what I think, and what I think scares me.

Sometimes it pleases me.

Usually it brings misery.

And this poem says exactly what I think.

What I think of myself, what I think of my friends, what I think about my lover.

Exactly.

Parts of it might please them, some of it might scare them.

Some of it might bring misery.

And I don't want to hurt them, I don't want to hurt them.

I don't want to hurt anybody.

I want everyone to love me.

Still, I keep working on it.

Why?

Why do I keep working on it? 

Nobody will ever see it. 

Nobody will ever see it.

I keep working on it even though I can never show it to anybody.

I keep working on it even though someone might get hurt.

Copyright © 2000 by Lloyd Schwartz. From Cairo Traffic (The University of Chicago Press, 2000). Appears courtesy of the author.

Copyright © 2000 by Lloyd Schwartz. From Cairo Traffic (The University of Chicago Press, 2000). Appears courtesy of the author.

Lloyd Schwartz

Lloyd Schwartz

Lloyd Schwartz was born on November 29, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York.

by this poet

poem
                        1 

Every October it becomes important, no, necessary
to see the leaves turning, to be surrounded
by leaves turning; it's not just the symbolism,
to confront in the death of the year your death,
one blazing farewell appearance, though the irony 
isn't lost on you that nature is
poem

In today’s paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment 

made me ache to call you—the only person I know 
who’d still remember his talent, his good looks, his self-

absorption. We’d laugh (at what haven’t we laughed?),
poem

yes	
no
maybe
sometimes
always
never

Never?
Yes.
Always?
No.
Sometimes?
Maybe—

maybe 
never
sometimes.
Yes—
no
always:

always
maybe.
No—
never
yes.