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About this poet

Jay Parini was born on April 2, 1948, in Pittston, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Scranton. He earned his AB in 1970 from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. During his junior year, he studied abroad at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland, where he immediately returned after graduating from Lafayette to receive his PhD in 1975. It was during his time at the University of Saint Andrews that he began writing poetry. He published his first book of poems, Singing in Time (J. W. B. Laing, 1972), when he was a student there.

In 1975, Parini returned to the United States and began his academic career as an assistant English professor and director of the creative writing program at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Two years later, he cofounded the New England Review with Sydney Lea. He later moved to Vermont, where he began his tenure as D. E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College in 1982.

Parini’s poetry collections include New and Collected Poems: 1975–2015 (Beacon Press, 2015), The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems (Braziller, 2005), House of Days (Henry Holt, 1998), Town Life (Henry Holt, 1988), and Anthracite Country (Random House, 1982). 

Also a novelist, biographer, editor, and critic, Parini has written biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost, and William Faulkner. His most recent novels include The Passages of H. M.: A Novel of Herman Melville (Doubleday, 2010), The Apprentice Lover (Harper Perennial, 2003), Benjamin’s Crossing (Holt, 1996), and The Last Station (Holt, 1990), which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film.

Parini has received honorary degrees from Lafayette College and the University of Scranton and fellowships from Christ Church at Oxford University, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the School of Advanced Study (Institute of English Studies) at the University of London.

He currently teaches at Middlebury College and lives with his wife in Weybridge, Vermont.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

New and Collected Poems: 1975–2015 (Beacon Press, 2015)
The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems (Braziller, 2005)
House of Days (Henry Holt and Co., 1998)
Town Life (Henry Holt and Co., 1988)
Anthracite Country (Random House, 1982)
Singing in Time (J. W. B. Laing, 1972)

Fiction

The Passages of H. M.: A Novel of Herman Melville (Doubleday, 2010)
The Apprentice Lover (Harper Perennial, 2003)
Benjamin’s Crossing (Henry Holt and Co., 1996)
The Last Station (Henry Holt and Co., 1990)
The Love Run (Blue Moon Books, 1989)
The Patch Boys (Henry Holt and Co., 1986)

Nonfiction

Jesus: The Human Face of God (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)
Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America (Doubleday, 2008)
Why Poetry Matters (Yale University Press, 2008)
The Art of Teaching (Oxford University Press, 2005)
One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner (Harper Collins, 2004)
Robert Frost: A Life (Henry Holt and Co., 1999)
Some Necessary Angels (Columbia University Press, 1997)
John Steinbeck: A Biography (Henry Holt and Co., 1995)
An Invitation to Poetry (Prentice-Hall, 1987)
Theodore Roethke, an American Romantic (University of Massachusetts Press, 1979)

 

Some Effects of Global Warming in Lackawanna County

The maples sweat now, out of season.
Buds pop eyes in wintry bushes
as the birds arrive, not having checked
the calendars or clocks. They scramble
in the frost for seeds, while underground
a sobbing starts in roots and tubers.
Ice cracks easily along the bank.
It slides in gullies where a bear, still groggy,
steps through coiled wire of the weeds.
Kids in T-shirts run to school, unaware
that summer is a long way off.
Their teachers flirt with off-the-wall assignments,
drum their fingers on the sweaty desktops.
As for me, my heart leaps high—
a deer escaping from the crosshairs,
skipping over barely frozen water
as the surface bends and splinters underfoot.

From New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini (Beacon Press, 2016). Reprinted with permission from Beacon Press.

From New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini (Beacon Press, 2016). Reprinted with permission from Beacon Press.

Jay Parini

Jay Parini

Jay Parini has published multiple collections of poetry, as well as novels, biographies and academic texts. He has received honorary degrees from Lafayette College and the University of Scranton and fellowships from Christ Church at Oxford University, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the School of Advanced Study (Institute of English Studies) at the University of London.

by this poet

poem

I follow it, the snail of thought
I leave the track, turn off this trail
I crouch in shadows, under ferns
I refuse to answer every bird
I see the liquid glister in its shell
I taste the wind
I smell the smoke of fire in the woods
I hear the crackle of a thousand thorns
I feel

poem

Blessings for these things:
the dandelion greens I picked in summer
and would douse with vinegar and oil
at grandma’s little house in Pennsylvania,
near the river. Or the small potatoes
she would spade to boil and butter,
which I ate like fruit with greasy fingers.

Blessings for

2
poem

Days come and go:
this bird by minute, hour by leaf,
a calendar of loss.

I shift through woods, sifting
the air for August cadences
and walk beyond the boundaries I’ve kept

for months, past loose stone walls,
the fences breaking into sticks,
the poems always spilling into