Frank Bidart

Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet
National Book Award Winner
National Book Critics Circle Award
Griffin Lifetime Recognition Award

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  • An Evening with Frank Bidart

Biography

“What Bidart proposes, to balance the moral and aesthetic risks that he takes, is the largest possible conception of poetry’s powers.” —The New York Times Book Review

“The forceful starkness in Bidart’s style fits characters who try to test, or reject, or escape, the limits of the merely physical, describable world.” —Stephanie Burt

Widely acclaimed by both critics and readers as one of the most bracing and intense poets working today, Frank Bidart is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including, most recently, Half-Light: Collected Poems (2017) an anthology of his collected works for which Frank won the 2017 the National Book Award for Poetry and the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other works include Metaphysical Dog (FSG, 2013), which won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2014 PEN/Voelcker Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, Watching the Spring Festival (FSG, 2008), Star Dust (FSG, 2005), Desire (FSG, 1997), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965—90 (FSG, 1991). His many awards and honors include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and The Paris Review’s first Bernard F. Conners Prize for “The War of Vaslav Nijinsky” in 1981. From 2003 to 2009, Bidart served as a chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.

About Bidart’s work, former U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Glück has said, “More fiercely, more obsessively, more profoundly than any poet since Berryman, Bidart explores individual guilt, the insoluble dilemma.” And The New York Times notes that Bidart “writes through passion, leaving out all but the statements that seem essential to the soul, the desire, the wisdom or the memory at hand.”

A friend of both Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, Bidart’s first books, Golden State and The Book of the Body, both published in the 1970s, gained critical attention and praise, but his reputation as a poet of uncompromising originality was made with The Sacrifice, published in 1983. Essential to that originality are Bidart’s trademark dramatic monologues—including poems written in the voices dancers, victims of bulimia, and murderers—as well as his long, episodic “Hour of the Night” poems, of which he has published three so far in his lifetime.

Raised in California, Bidart attended the University of California—Riverside and Harvard University. In 2007, Bidart’s work was the subject of Fastening the Voice to the Page, a book-length discussion of Bidart’s work that features contributions from Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Donald Hall, Robert Lowell, Robert Pinksy, Louise Glück, and many others.

Short Bio

Frank Bidart is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Half-Light: Collected Poems (2017), for which Frank won the 2017 National Book Award for Poetry and the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Metaphysical Dog, which won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His other books include include Watching the Spring FestivalStar DustDesire, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965—90. He is also the co-editor of the Collected Poems of Robert Lowell. His many awards and honors include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and The Paris Review’s first Bernard F. Conners Prize for “The War of Vaslav Nijinsky” in 1981. From 2003 to 2009, Bidart served as a chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has taught at Wellesley College since 1972.

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