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About this poet

Linda Gregerson was born on August 5, 1950, in Elgin, Illinois. She received a BA from Oberlin College in 1971, an MA from Northwestern University, an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and her PhD from Stanford University.

Her books of poetry include Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014 (Mariner Books, 2015); The Selvage (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012); Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), a finalist for the National Book Award; Waterborne (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996), a finalist for both The Poet’s Prize and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Fire in the Conservatory (Dragon Gate Press, 1982).

She is also the author of literary criticism, including Negative Capability: Contemporary American Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2001) and The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic (Cambridge University Press, 1995).

About her work, the poet Rosanna Warren writes, "Tender and harrowing, jagged, severely precise and floodlit with compassion, Linda Gregerson's poems break and mend poetic language as they break and mend the heart."

Her awards and honors include the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine, the Consuelo Ford Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Isabel MacCaffrey Award from the Spenser Society, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize.

In 2015, Gregerson was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She teaches American poetry and Renaissance literature at the University of Michigan, where she also directs the MFA program in creative writing. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014 (Mariner Books, 2015)
The Selvage (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin, 2007)
Waterborne (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)
The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep (Houghton Mifflin, 1996)
Fire in the Conservatory (Dragon Gate Press, 1982)

Prose

Negative Capability: Contemporary American Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2001)
The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic (Cambridge University Press, 1995)

The Weavers

As sometimes, in the gentler months, the sun
will return
                            before the rain has altogether
                                                       stopped and through

this lightest of curtains the curve of it shines
with a thousand
                           inclinations and so close
                                                      is the one to the

one adjacent that you cannot tell where magenta
for instance begins
                          and where the all-but-magenta
                                                      has ended and yet

you’d never mistake the blues for red, so these two,
the girl and the
                          goddess, with their earth-bred, grassfed,
                                                      kettle-dyed

wools, devised on their looms
transitions so subtle no
                          hand could trace nor eye discern
                                                      their increments,

yet the stories they told were perfectly clear.
The gods in their heaven,
                          the one proposed. The gods in
                                                      heat, said the other.

And ludicrous too, with their pinions and swansdown,
fins and hooves,
                          their shepherds’ crooks and pizzles.
                                                      Till mingling

with their darlings-for-a-day they made
a progeny so motley it
                          defied all sorting-out.
                                                      It wasn’t the boasting

brought Arachne all her sorrow
nor even
                          the knowing her craft so well.
                                                      Once true

and twice attested.
It was simply the logic she’d already
                          taught us how
                                                      to read.

From Prodigal: New and Selected Poems: 1976–2014, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

From Prodigal: New and Selected Poems: 1976–2014, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson’s book Waterborne won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize, and her book The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
Sun at the zenith. Greening
            earth.
  Slight buckling of the left
 
hind leg. And all this while
            the girl
  at his ear good boy and now
 
the hip giving way and mildly as
            was ever
2
poem

Copper and ginger, the plentiful
      mass of it bound, half loosed, and
            bound again in lavish

      disregard as though such heaping up
were a thing indifferent, surfeit from
            the table of the gods, who do

            not give a thought to fairness, no,

poem

                                   1.

The backstory’s always of hardship, isn’t it?
                       No-other-choices and hoping-for-better
            on foreign shores. A minute ago, as measured

by the sand dunes here, the shipping lanes were thick
                       with them