Born in New York City, Jorie Graham spent her formative years in Europe, before returning to the States to study filmmaking at New York University. She later received a MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.
Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including the recently published Sea Change (Ecco, 2008) and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She has also edited two anthologies, Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language (1996) and The Best American Poetry 1990. According to James Longenbach of the New York Times: “Jorie Graham [engages] the whole human contraption — intellectual, global, domestic, apocalyptic — rather than the narrow emotional slice of it most often reserved for poems. She thinks of the poet not as a recorder but as a constructor of experience.”
Graham’s many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. She served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.
Act III, Sc. 2
Look she said this is not the distance
we wanted to stay at—We wanted to get
close, very close. But what
is the way in again? And is it
too late? She could hear the actions
rushing past—but they are on
another track. And in the silence,
or whatever it is that follows,
there was still the buzzing: motes, spores,
aftereffects and whatnot recalled the morning after.
Then the thickness you can’t get past called waiting.
Then the you, whoever you are, peering down to see if it’s
Then just the look on things being looked-at.
Then just the look of things being seen.
From The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 (The Ecco Press, 1995)
- “Jorie Graham, The Art of Poetry No. 85,” interview by Thomas Gardner. The Paris Review. February 2002.
- “Understanding Jorie Graham,” by B. Lussier. The California Journal of Poetics. 19 June 2011.
- Poem “Sundown.” The New Yorker. 19 April 2010.
- Jorie Graham Reading. Dodge Poetry Festival. 2006.
Reading | October 11, 2011