Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham

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Jorie Graham is an American poet. The U.S. Poetry Foundation
Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation is a Chicago-based American foundation created to promote poetry in the wider culture. It was formed from Poetry magazine, which it continues to publish, with a 2003 gift of $200 million from philanthropist Ruth Lilly....

 suggests "She is perhaps the most celebrated poet of the American post-war generation". She replaced poet Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

 as Boylston Professor at Harvard, becoming the first woman to be appointed to this position. She won the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for Poetry (1996) for The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 and was chancellor of the Academy of American Poets
Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is a non-profit organization dedicated to the art of poetry. The Academy was incorporated as a "membership corporation" in New York State in 1934...

 from 1997 to 2003.a

Books and Awards


Jorie Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including her most recent,Sea Change (Ecco, 2008). She has also edited two anthologies, Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language (1996) and The Best American Poetry 1990. She is widely anthologized and her poetry is the subject of many essays, including Jorie Graham: Essays on the Poetry; Edited by Thomas Gardner (2005). 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. The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for Poetry. She served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets
Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is a non-profit organization dedicated to the art of poetry. The Academy was incorporated as a "membership corporation" in New York State in 1934...

 from 1997 to 2003, and she currently sits on the contributing editorial board to the literary journal Conjunctions
Conjunctions
Conjunctions, is a biannual American literary journal based at Bard College. It was founded in 1981 and is currently edited by Bradford Morrow....

.

Life


Jorie Graham was born in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in 1950 to Curtis Bill Pepper, a war correspondent and the head of the Rome bureau for Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

magazine, and the sculptor Beverly Stoll Pepper
Beverly Pepper
Beverly Pepper is a pioneering sculptor known for her monumental works,site specific and land art. She remains independent from any particular art movement.- Early Life and Education :...

 (born December 20, 1924, Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

). She was raised in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

, but was expelled for participating in student protests. She completed her undergraduate work as a film major at New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

, and became interested in poetry during that time. (She claims that her interest was sparked while walking past M.L. Rosenthal's classroom and overhearing the last couplet of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, commonly known as Prufrock, is a poem by T. S. Eliot, begun in February 1910 and published in Chicago in June 1915. Described as a "drama of literary anguish," it presents a stream of consciousness in the form of a dramatic monologue, and marked the beginning of...

" ). After working as a secretary, she later went on to receive her Master of Fine Arts from the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop
Iowa Writers' Workshop
The Program in Creative Writing, more commonly known as the Iowa Writers' Workshop, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, is a highly regarded graduate-level creative writing program in the United States...

 at the University of Iowa
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is a public state-supported research university located in Iowa City, Iowa, United States. It is the oldest public university in the state. The university is organized into eleven colleges granting undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees...

.

Graham has held a longtime faculty position at the Iowa Writers' Workshop
Iowa Writers' Workshop
The Program in Creative Writing, more commonly known as the Iowa Writers' Workshop, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, is a highly regarded graduate-level creative writing program in the United States...

, and has held an appointment at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 since 1999. Graham replaced Nobel Laureate and poet Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

 as Boylston professor in Harvard's Department of English and American Literature and Language. She became the first woman to be awarded this position.

Graham was married to and divorced from publishing heir William Graham, brother of Donald E. Graham
Donald E. Graham
Donald E. Graham is chief executive officer and Chairman of The Washington Post Company. He is also the director and chairman of Facebook Inc.- Early life :...

, now publisher of the Washington Post. She then married the poet James Galvin
James Galvin (poet)
James Galvin is an American poet. He has published six collections of poetry, most recently As Is , "X: Poems," and Resurrection Update, Collected Poems, 1975-1997 which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and the Poet’s Prize...

 in 1983 and they divorced in 1999. She married poet Peter M. Sacks
Peter M. Sacks
Peter M. Sacks is an expatriate South African painter/poet living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Normandy, France.- Books and Awards :...

, a colleague at Harvard, in 2000.

Controversy


Her relationship to Sacks was briefly a source of controversy. In January 1999, she judged the University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 Contemporary Poetry series contest, which selected the manuscript "O Wheel" from Peter Sacks as the first place winner. Graham noted that, at the time she and Ramke awarded the prize, she had not yet married Sacks, and that while she had "felt awkward" about the award, she had first cleared it with the series editor, Bin Ramke, who made the actual award. As a result of the critical coverage from Foetry.com
Foetry.com
Foetry.com, sometimes referred to as just Foetry, was a website that attempted to identify fraudulent and unethical practices in poetry contests. It was active from April 1, 2004 until May 18, 2007.-Organization:...

 and elsewhere, Ramke resigned from the editorship of the series. Graham subsequently announced that she would no longer serve as a judge in contests, although as of 2008 she continues to do so. Throughout the course of the contest, Ramke had insisted that judges of the contest be kept secret, and until Foetry.com obtained the names of judges via The Open Records Act, the conflict of interest had been undisclosed. The University of Georgia Press
University of Georgia Press
The University of Georgia Press or UGA Press is a publishing house and is a member of the Association of American University Presses.Founded in 1938, the UGA Press is a division of the University of Georgia and is located on the campus in Athens, Georgia, USA...

 now discloses the names of its poetry judges, who "are instructed to avoid conflicts of interest of all kinds.". A statement now adopted in the rules of many competitions (including the University of Georgia Contest) to prevent judges from selecting students is often referred to as the "Jorie Graham rule".

The Foetry site also contended that Graham, as a judge at Georgia and other contests, had awarded prizes to at least five of her former students from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Graham's reply to this was that over years of teaching she has had over 1400 students, many of whom went on to continue writing poetry, that no rules had prohibited her from awarding prizes to former students, and that in each case she claims to have selected the strongest work.

Selected Poems


Selected scholarship

  • Jorie Graham: Essays on the Poetry; Edited by Thomas Gardner (2005)
  • No Image There and the Gaze Remains: The Visual in the Work of Jorie Graham; by Catherine Karaguezian (2005)
  • Regions of Unlikeness: Explaining Contemporary Poetry; by Thomas Gardner (1999)
  • The Breaking of Style: Hopkins, Heaney, Graham; by Helen Vender (1995)

External links