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Debora Greger

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Debora Greger

Born on August 16, 1949, in Walsenburg, Colorado, Debora Greger spent her childhood in Richland, Washington, the eldest of seven children. Her town bordered the Hanford Site, a plutonium production facility constructed as part of the Manhattan Project in 1943. The plutonium produced at the site was used in both the first nuclear bomb tested and the bomb detonated over Nagasaki. This was where her father, along with many other Richland fathers, worked.

She attended the University of Washington and graduated with a BA in 1971. She continued on to the Iowa Writers' Workshop, received her MFA in 1974, and, in the same year, was awarded the Grolier Prize in Poetry.

Her first poetry collection, Movable Islands (Princeton University Press), was published in 1980. Five years later, she published her second book, And  (Princeton University Press). Notably, her 1996 collection, Desert Fathers, Uranium Daughters, revolves around her father's work environment at the Hanford Site and the impact it had on her childhood.

Greger is also a visual artist. Her collages have appeared in several magazines and book covers, including Intention & Interpretation, edited by Gary I. Seminger, and William Logan's Desperate Measures. Her work has been exhibited in venues across the country.

Greger’s numerous awards and honors include grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts; the Academy of American Poets' Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award, selected by John Hollander; the “Discovery”/The Nation Poetry Prize; and an Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.

Greger has taught at George Mason University and California State University, Chico. In 1988, she joined the English department at the University of Florida, where she currently teaches. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, and Cambridge, England ,with her longtime partner, the poet William Logan.

Selected Bibliography

In Darwin's Room (Penguin, 2017)
By Herself (Penguin, 2012)
Men, Women, and Ghosts (Penguin, 2008)
Western Art (Penguin, 2004)
God (Penguin, 2001)
Desert Fathers, Uranium Daughters (Penguin, 1996)
Off-Season at the Edge of the World (University of Illinois Press, 1994)
The 1002nd Night (Princeton University Press, 1990)
And (Princeton University Press, 1985)
Movable Islands (Princeton University Press, 1980)


by this poet


                     for Greg Greger


Where were the neighbors? Out of town?
In my pajamas, I sat at my father's feet
in front of their squat, myopic television, 
the first in our neighborhood.

On a screen the size of a salad plate,
toy airplanes droned over quilted fields.
Bouquets of

What is sky but water, more water,
crossed by eight bridges?
Is the ancient poet in a rush to reach land?

No, he’s already one of the Six Immortals.
How long before the papery iris-petals
he admires wrinkle? They barely grow beards.

In a thousand years, pilgrims will come.

                     in memory of Margaret Greger, 1923-2009

I.  Death Takes a Holiday

Battleships melted down into clouds:
first the empire died, then the shipbuilding,

but cloud formations of gun-metal gray
ruled over the sea that was England in June. 

A scarecrow treaded water instead of