poem index


Maxine Chernoff

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Maxine Chernoff was born on February 24, 1952, in Chicago and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

She is the author of over a dozen books of poetry, including Here (Counterpath, 2014), Without (Shearsman, 2012), and To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn, 2011).

A fiction author and translator as well as a poet, Chernoff is also the author of six books of fiction and The Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin (Omnidawn, 2008), which won the 2009 PEN Translation Award. With her husband, Paul Hoover, Chernoff founded and edited New American Writing.

A recipient of the Carl Sandburg Award in Poetry, as well as fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, Marin Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Chernoff currently serves as a professor and chair of the creative writing program at San Francisco State University. She lives in California.

Selected Bibliography


Here (Counterpath, 2014)
Without (Shearsman, 2012)
To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn, 2011)
The Turning (Apogee Press, 2008)
Among the Names (Apogee Press, 2005)
Evolution of the Bridge (Salt Publications, 2004)
World: Poems, 1991–2001 (Salt Publications, 2001)
Leap Year Day: New & Selected Poems (Another Chicago Press, 1990)
Japan (Avenue B Press, 1988)
New Faces of 1952 (Ithaca House, 1985)
Utopia TV Store (The Yellow Press, 1979)
A Vegetable Emergency (Beyond Baroque, 1976)
The Last Auroch (The Now Press, 1976)


The Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin (Omnidawn, 2008)

by this poet

a voice speaks 

to rheumy stars

deadpan witness

no call and response

or supplicant's hope

all this hurts

the ocean suggests

as if waves

could privilege

ear's dumb gestures

or a ghost

of a sentence learn

to read its

own dried ink
Even as an embryo, she made room for "the other guy." Slick and 
bloody, she emerged quietly: Why spoil the doctor's best moment? 
When Dad ran over her tricycle, she smiled, and when Mom drowned 
her kittens, she curtsied, a Swiss statuette. Her teachers liked the way 
she sat at her desk, composed as yesterday