Anne Stevenson

2007 Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime

photo of Anne Stevenson

After more than 40 years living in Britain, the American lyric poet Anne Stevenson “has never lost that sense of being on the edge of things, artistically and geographically (and) that is where the clarity and perspective of her art come from” according to England’s Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion. Much admired in poetry circles on both sides of the Atlantic and often cited as a role model for women poets, she has published 17 volumes of poetry noted for their musical quality.

Stevenson was born in Cambridge, England, in 1933, of American parents, and grew up in New England and Michigan. She studied music, European literature, and history at the University of Michigan and returned later to study English and write the first critical study of Elizabeth Bishop. “If Yeats and Eliot taught me how to listen, Elizabeth Bishop taught me how to look,” she said recently. She settled in Britain in 1964 and has since lived in Cambridge, Scotland, Oxford, the Welsh Borders and, most recently, in North Wales and Durham.

She has held many literary fellowships and was the inaugural winner of Britain’s biggest literary prize, the Northern Rock Foundation Writer’s Award, in 2002.  As well as her numerous collections of poetry, Stevenson has published a biography of Sylvia Plath, Bitter Flame (1989), a book of essays, Between the Iceberg and the Ship (1998), and two critical studies of Elizabeth Bishop’s work, most recently, Five Looks at Elizabeth Bishop (2006). Her latest poetry books are Poems 1955-2005 (2005) and Stone Milk (2007), both from Bloodaxe.

Given the richness and variety of her work, and how many of the poems cry out to be anthologised, it is remarkable how little celebrated…Stevenson remains,” wrote Roger Caldwell in the Times Literary Supplement in 2006.  Appropriately, she recently received the Neglected Master Award from the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation.

Additional Anne Stevenson information and links.