Anne Stevenson

2007 Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement

photo of Anne Stevenson

Anne Stevenson (1933-2020) was born in Cambridge, England, 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 once said. She settled in Britain in 1964 and lived in Cambridge, Scotland, Oxford, and the Welsh Borders before settling in North Wales and Durham.

She 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 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, including Five Looks at Elizabeth Bishop (2006). In 2020, she published Completing the Circle with Bloodaxe Books, her sixteenth collection, her third since her retrospective Poems 1955-2005, and following two other late collections, Stone Milk (2007) and Astonishment (2012).

"Given the richness and variety of her work, and how many of the poems cry out to be anthologized, it is remarkable how little celebrated Stevenson remains," wrote Roger Caldwell in the Times Literary Supplement. Appropriately, she received the Neglected Master Award from the Poetry Foundation. Her other honors include a Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry from the Sewanee Review in Tennessee.

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