Susan Stewart

Susan Stewart is a poet, critic, and translator. Her five books of poetry include The Forest (1995), which received the Literary Award of the Philadelphia Atheneum; Columbarium (2003), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award; and, most recently Red Rover (2008), also published in Italian translation by Jaca Book in Milan. Her most recent collection Cinder: New and Selected Poems appeared with Graywolf Press in 2017.

Stewart’s poetry was performed in the summer of 2015 at the Contemporary Music Festival at Tanglewood in “Dark the Star,” a baritone song cycle by James Primosch. Stewart and Primosch collaborated earlier on a song cycle, “Songs for Adam,” commissioned by the Chicago Symphony; the world premiere was held in October 2009 with baritone Brian Mulligan and the CSO.

Stewart’s song cycle, “A Sibyl,” written for the composer James Primosch was performed in the summer of 2018 by the Juilliard Ensemble at the Museum of Modern Art. Other performances of her work with Primosch include the baritone cycle “Dark the Star,” presented at the summer of 2015 Contemporary Music Festival at Tanglewood and a song cycle, “Songs for Adam,” commissioned by the Chicago Symphony; the world premiere was held in October 2009 with baritone Brian Mulligan and the CSO. Her poems also have been set by the jazz clarinetist Ben Goldberg.

Stewart’s collected essays on art, The Open Studio: Essays in Art and Aesthetics, were published by the University of Chicago Press in 2004. Her collaborations with visual artists include most recently work with Ann Hamilton and Sandro Chia.

Stewart’s many books books of criticism include her new study, The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture (2020); The Poet’s Freedom: A Notebook on Making (2011);  Poetry and the Fate of the Senses (2002), which received both the 2002 Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism from Phi Beta Kappa and the 2004 Truman Capote Award in Literary Criticism; Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation (1991);  On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (1984), and Nonsense (1979).

In 2013 Stewart published two co-translations: Laudomia Bonanni’s novel The Reprisal with her Princeton colleague Sara Teardo and, with Patrizio Ceccagnoli, Milo De Angelis’s Theme of Farewell and After-Poems—the latter was short-listed for the 2014 ALTA Prize for the year’s best literary translation. Stewart’s translation, Love Lessons: Selected Poems of Alda Merini, appeared with Princeton University Press in 2009. She also translated Euripides’ Andromache with Wesley Smith, and the poetry and selected prose of the Scuola Romana painter Scipione with Brunella Antomarini.

A 1997 MacArthur Fellow, Stewart has received fellowships as well from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Pew Foundation, and the Lila Wallace Foundation. In 2010 she received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Stewart is a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets; she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005 and was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2014-2015.

In 2013 she delivered the Finzi-Contini Lecture at Yale University and read her poetry at the Beinecke Library on the occasion of the Beinecke’s acquisition of the archive of her papers and manuscripts. In 2016 she will deliver the Alexander Lectures at the University of Toronto.

This Autumn Stewart will teach English 205, Reading Poetry, as a seminar and in the Spring she will teach a graduate seminar on the history and practice of literary criticism.

Stewart’s dissertation advising includes projects in 20th century African-American, Irish, British, Latin American, French, and American poetry, the figure of the poet/critic, the history of emotions in 18th century and Romantic poetry in Britain, issues of memory in Victorian lyric, the poetry of World War II, cosmology in 17th century British poetry, and the relations between poetry and the visual arts.

Click here for Susan Stewart’s Phi Beta Kappa poem for Princeton’s 2015 induction at Commencement.

Some Recent Poems by Susan Stewart:

The Paris Review: “After the Mowing” and “What Piranesi Knew”

The Paris Review and The Pushcart Anthology: Best American Poetry: “Pine”

Boston Review: “The dead inscribed, alphabetical, within”

The Nation“Atavistic Sonnet” and Three Poems: “There Is No Natural Death,” “The Forest,” “The Owl”

Poetry: “A Language”

The Kenyon Review: “Two Poems on the Name of Vermeer”

Chicago Review, reprinted in Poetry Daily: “The Sand-Castle”

The New Yorker: “First Idyll

Her Recent Essay on Poetry Include:

Review essays in The Nation on Pier Paolo Pasolini, Women and Elegy, Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Saba, and Robert Creeley. Accessible via:

“Italian Poetry in an Age of Spectacle” in Parnassus

On Emily Dickinson in New Literary History

On A.R. Ammons in Chicago Review

Readings of poems and translations on PENN SOUND:

Recent interviews and criticism about Stewart’s work in poetry:

Randall Couch, “On the Art of Susan Stewart” in Jacket 2

Triple Canopy: ‘I turn to the Word “Person”‘

Book show of the ABC, Melbourne: Beyond Rhyme – The Art of Writing Poetry

WHYY, Philadelphia, Radio Times

Free Verse: Interview with Susan Stewart

Photo reprinted with permission from The Academy of American Poets.