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About this poet

Poet and critic Susan Stewart was born on March 15, 1952. She received a BA in English and anthropology from Dickinson College, an MA in poetics from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania.

She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Columbarium (University of Chicago Press, 2003) which received the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Forest (1995), which received the Literary Award of the Philadelphia Atheneum; The Hive (1987); and Yellow Stars and Ice (1981).

Her collected essays on art, The Open Studio: Essays in Art and Aesthetics, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2004. Her other books of criticism include The Poet's Freedom: A Notebook on Making (University Of Chicago Press, 2011); Poetry and the Fate of the Senses (2002), which received both the 2002 Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism from Phi Beta Kappa and the 2004 Truman Capote Award in Literary Criticism; as well as Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation (1991); Nonsense (1989); and On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (1984).

She also co-translated Euripides' Andromache with Wesley Smith, and the poetry and selected prose of the Scuola Romana painter Scipione with Brunella Antomarini, and collaborated with composer James Primosch on a song cycle commissioned by the Chicago Symphony.

About her work, the poet and critic Allen Grossman has written, "Stewart has built a poetic syntax capable of conveying an utterly singular account of consciousness, by the light of which it is possible to see the structure of the human world with a new clarity and an unforseen precision, possible only in her presence and by means of her art."

Her honors include a Lila Wallace Individual Writer's Award, two grants in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pew Fellowship for the Arts, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2005.

Stewart taught at Temple University in Philadelphia from 1978 to 1997. She is currently Professor of English at Princeton University where she teaches the history of poetry and aesthetics. 

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From the Image Archive

 

Yellow Stars and Ice

Susan Stewart, 1952
I am as far as the deepest sky between clouds
and you are as far as the deepest root and wound, 
and I am as far as a train at evening, 
as far as a whistle you can't hear or remember. 
You are as far as an unimagined animal 
who, frightened by everything, never appears. 
I am as far as cicadas and locusts
and you are as far as the cleanest arrow 
that has sewn the wind to the light on 
the birch trees. I am as far as the sleep of rivers 
that stains the deepest sky between clouds, 
you are as far as invention, and I am as far as memory.

You are as far as a red-marbled stream 
where children cut their feet on the stones 
and cry out. And I am as far as their happy 
mothers, bleaching new linen on the grass 
and singing, "You are as far as another life, 
as far as another life are you."
And I am as far as an infinite alphabet 
made from yellow stars and ice, 
and you are as far as the nails of the dead man, 
as far as a sailor can see at midnight 
when he's drunk and the moon is an empty cup, 
and I am as far as invention and you are as far as memory.

I am as far as the corners of a room where no one 
has ever spoken, as far as the four lost corners 
of the earth. And you are as far as the voices 
of the dumb, as the broken limbs of saints 
and soldiers, as the scarlet wing of the suicidal 
blackbird, I am farther and farther away from you. 
And you are as far as a horse without a rider 
can run in six years, two months and five days.
I am as far as that rider, who rubs his eyes with
his blistered hands, who watches a ghost don his
jacket and boots and now stands naked in the road.
As far as the space between word and word, 
as the heavy sleep of the perfectly loved 
and the sirens of wars no one living can remember, 
as far as this room, where no words have been spoken, 
you are as far as invention, and I am as far as memory.

From Yellow Stars and Ice by Susan Stewart, published by Princeton University Press. Copyright © 1981 by Susan Stewart. All rights reserved.

You may read and browse this material at this website. However, no further copying, downloading, or linking is permitted. No part of this material may be further reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Users are not permitted to mount this file on any network servers. For permission requests and to search our online catalog, please see our website at www.pup.princeton.edu.

From Yellow Stars and Ice by Susan Stewart, published by Princeton University Press. Copyright © 1981 by Susan Stewart. All rights reserved.

You may read and browse this material at this website. However, no further copying, downloading, or linking is permitted. No part of this material may be further reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Users are not permitted to mount this file on any network servers. For permission requests and to search our online catalog, please see our website at www.pup.princeton.edu.

Susan Stewart

Susan Stewart

Poet and critic Susan Stewart was born in 1952. She received a

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skin, and back again, and back 
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Alack A Day

Stiffing a filigree leaf, ribs 
align in alternity. Drop 
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the har-dee-har men come soon.
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