Photo Credit: Mariana Cook

Jorie Graham

b. 1950

Birth City, State, Country

New York City, New York, USA


Born in New York City, Jorie Graham was raised and educated in Italy and France. She attended the Sorbonne in Paris, where she studied philosophy, and New York University, where she pursued filmmaking. While in New York, she began writing and studying poetry, and went on to earn an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She later taught at the Writers’ Workshop, leaving to join the faculty at Harvard. When her collection Place won the Forward Poetry Prize in 2012, she was the first American woman to receive the UK award. When she was awarded the International Nonino Literary Prize in 2013, she was only the third US recipient since the award was established. In 2017 she was awarded the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.

One of the most celebrated poets of the American post-war generation, Jorie Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts (1980), Erosion (1983), The End of Beauty (1987), Region of Unlikeness (1991), The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1992 (1995) winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Never (2002), Sea Change (2008), Place (2012), winner of the Forward Poetry Prize for best collection, From the New World (2015), Fast (2017), and Runaway (2020) among others. She has taught for many years at Harvard University as the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, the first woman to be given this position. Graham has received numerous honors and awards for her work, including the prestigious MacArthur fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Graham is known for her deep interest in history, language, and perception; with visual art, mythology, history, and philosophy being central to her work. The influences of her mother, a sculptor, and father, a journalist, her trilingual upbringing, and her early immersion in European culture are all evident in her poetry. Her influences are predominantly modernists—William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens, among others—and help explain the shape and flow of her poetry, which is marked by a reliance on line as a unit of sense and perception. Using long and short lines, indentation and spacing, Graham’s forms explore the dualities and polarities of life, of the creative and destructive tensions that exist between spirit and flesh, the real and the mythical, stillness and motion, the interior and exterior existence.

About her work, James Longenbach wrote in the New York Times: “For 30 years Jorie Graham has engaged 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. Like Rilke or Yeats, she imagines the hermetic poet as a public figure, someone who addresses the most urgent philosophical and political issues of the time simply by writing poems.”

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.

(Biography courtesy of The Poetry Foundation and Jorie Graham’s website

Published Works

[To] The Last [Be] Human (Copper Canyon Press, 2022)
Runaway (Ecco Press, 2020)
fast (Ecco Press, 2017)
From The New World: Poems 1976-2014 (Ecco Press, 2015)
The Taken-Down God: Selected Poems 1997-2008 (Carcanet, 2013)
PLACE (Ecco Press, 2012)
Sea Change (Ecco Press, 2008)
Overlord (Ecco Press, 2005)
Never (Ecco Press, 2002)
Swarm (Ecco Press, 2000)
The Errancy (Ecco Press, 1997)
The Dream of the Unified Field (Ecco Press, 1996)
Materialism (Ecco Press, 1993)
Region of Unlikeness (Ecco Press, 1991)
The End of Beauty (Ecco Press, 1987)
Erosion (Princeton University Press, 1983)
Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts (Princeton University Press, 1980)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading

Current Title

Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University


Sorbonne, Paris
New York University, B.A. Filmmaking
University of Iowa, MFA in Poetry

Subject Matter


Profile Created By

Shelby Sizemore, Yetzirah Intern