Linda Gregerson

Acclaimed Poet
National Book Award Finalist

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • An Evening with Linda Gregerson

“Linda Gregerson is one of the most original and vibrant of contemporary American poets.” —David Baker

“In poem after poem, Gregerson manages to pair narrative immediacy with intricate orchestration, creating a kind of writing that hustles us along even as it reaches back through complicated echoes of earlier moments in the poem.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Gregerson draws relationships between disparate subjects and historical periods with masterful assurance.” —Publishers Weekly

A Renaissance scholar, classically trained actor, and devotee of the sciences, Linda Gregerson produces lyrical poems—informed by her expansive reading—that are inquisitive, unflinching, and tender. Gregerson is the author of six collections of poetry: Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976 to 2014 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 2015); The Selvage (2012); The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize and The Poets Prize; Waterborne, winner of the 2003 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Magnetic North, a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. Of Magnetic North, Dana Seman wrote, “The theme addressed throughout his intricately latticed and laced collection: the ways art and science mediate our perception of the world.” 

In an interview with David Baker of the Kenyon Review, Gregerson, tracing the connections she finds between science and poetry, says: “I think there are rhythms of thought, fragile propositions about the intersections of human understanding and human habits, robust intersections of the pragmatic and the sublime, that science shares with art, and I love the thought that poetry can learn from and do homage to its near cousins. The great thing about ‘facts’ (and the scientists are much more sophisticated skeptics than the poets are) is that they put up resistance. Resistance is good for art, and for thinking in general.”

Gregerson’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Granta, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies.  She is also the author of two volumes of criticism, including Negative Capability: Contemporary American Poetry. 

Linda Gregerson’s website

Linda Gregerson is the author of seven collections of poetry, including New and Selected Poems (2015); The Selvage (2012); The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, which was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize and The Poets Prize; Magnetic North, which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award; and Waterborne, which won the 2003 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Gregerson’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Granta, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies.

PRODIGAL: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, 1976 TO 2014 (Poetry, 2015)

Prodigal is the testament of an American stoic, with one foot in the Dust Bowl of her ancestors and the other firmly planted in modern theories of biological determinism…Amazing, Prodigalshows us, to think what we’ve amounted to, considering where we’re from.” —Srikanth Reddy

“This collection is timely in more ways than one. These days, when the erosive effects of ephemeral headlines and clickbait are more evident than ever, Gregerson’s lifetime achievement stands as a redoubtable example of living intentionally and attentively. […] The poems in this collection serve as a fine introduction for readers still unfamiliar with this contemporary master’s work.” – Emilia Phillips, LA Review of Books

In her first book of collected work, prize-winning poet Linda Gregerson mines nearly forty years of poetry, bringing us a full range of her talents. Ten new poems introduce Prodigal, followed by fifty poems, culled from Gregerson’s five collections, that range broadly in subject from class in America to our world’s ravaged environment to the wonders of parenthood to the intersection of science and art to the passion of the Roman gods, and beyond. This selection reinforces Gregerson’s standing as “one of poetry’s mavens…whose poetics seek truth through the precise apprehension of the beautiful while never denying the importance of rationality” (Chicago Tribune). A brilliant stylist, known for her formal experiments as well as her perfected lines, Gregerson is a poet of great vision. Here, the growth of her art and the breadth of her interests offer a snapshot of a major poet’s intellect in the midst of her career.

THE SELVAGE (Poetry, 2012)

“The Selvage is the boldest evidence yet that Linda Gregerson’s unique combination of dramatic lyricism and fierce intelligence transcends current fashions to claim an enduring place in American poetry.” —New England Review

In eloquent poems about Ariadne, Theseus, and Dido, the death of a father, a bombing raid in Lebanon, and in a magnificent series detailing Masaccios Brancacci frescoes, The Selvage traces the “line between” the “wonder and woe” of human experience. Keenly attuned to the precariousness of our existence in a fractured world—of “how little the world will spare us”—Gregerson explores the cruelty of human and political violence.The Selvage is the boldest evidence yet that Linda Gregerson’s unique combination of dramatic lyricism and fierce intelligence transcends current fashions to claim an enduring place in American poetry.

MAGNETIC NORTH (Poetry, 2007)
From subjects as diverse as the Nazi occupation of Poland and a breakthrough discovery in cell biology, Gregerson seeks to distill “the shape of the question,” the tenuous connection between knowing and suffering, between the brightness of the body and the shadows of the mind. “Choose any angle you like,” she writes, “The world is split in two.” Longtime readers of Gregerson’s poetry will be fascinated by her departure from the supple tercets with which she has worked for nearly twenty years. Magnetic North is a bold collection, full of formal experiments. It’s also a heartening act of sustained attention from one of our most historically engaged poets.

WATERBORNE (Poetry, 2002)
Winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, Linda Gregerson’s third volume of poetry is a stirring, brilliantly crafted collection informed by the common need for water. Fluently rendered in Gregerson’s distinctive three-line stanzas, these poems explore subjects from autism to genealogy to ecology. Throughout, Gregerson examines mortality in all its beauty and horror. Waterborne reminds us that passionate attention—to language, to the external world itself—is a form of prayer.


In a wide-ranging and fiercely intelligent series of readings, Linda Gregerson presents an eloquent overview of the contemporary American lyric. This lyric is distinguished, she argues, not only by its unprecedented variety and abundance, but by its persistent and supple engagement with form. In detailed examinations of work by John Ashbery, Mark Strand, Louis Glück, James Schuyler, Muriel Rukeyser, C. K. Williams, Rita Dove, Philip Levine, Heather McHugh, William Meredith, John Hollander, and a host of other recent and contemporary poets, Gregerson documents the depth and richness of American lyric production at the turn of the twenty-first century. In its scruples and reservations as in its discriminating explanations, Negative Capability unearths the contours of a distinctive American poetic tradition. This book is a rich symbiosis of critical and poetic intelligence. It is also a work of passionate advocacy. The book will appeal to those interested in the current state of American poetry: practicing poets, readers, and students of literature and literary criticism as well as professional critics.

Ex Machina

When love was a question, the message arrived
in the beak of a wire and plaster bird. The coloratura
was hardly to be believed. For flight,

it took three stagehands: two
on the pulleys and one on the flute. And you
thought fancy rained like grace.

Our fog machine lost in the Parcel Post, we improvised
with smoke. The heroine dies of tuberculosis after all.
Remorse and the raw night air: any plausible tenor

might cough. The passions, I take my clues
from an obvious source, may be less like climatic events
than we conventionalize, though I’ve heard

of tornadoes that break the second-best glassware
and leave everything else untouched.
There’s a finer conviction than seamlessness

elicits: the Greeks knew a god
by the clanking behind his descent.
The heart, poor pump, protests till you’d think

it’s rusted past redemption, but
there’s tuning in these counterweights,
celebration’s assembled voice.

-from Fire in the Conservatory