Frank Bidart

1998 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry

photo of Frank Bidart

Frank Bidart, born in 1939 in Bakersfield, California, attended the University of California at Riverside and Harvard University.  Praised as a poet “of uncommon intelligence and uncompromising originality,” his early books of poetry include Desire; In the Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-90; The Sacrifice; The Book of the Body; and Golden State.  More recently he has published Star Dust and Music Like Dirt and was co-editor with David Gewanter of Robert Lowell’s Collected Poems. The voices in Bidart’s poems speak in the midst of circumstances “in which high metaphysical speculation collides with messiness and torment…. How immediate and physically there in the mind’s ear is the voice of the speaker.”
Mr. Bidart has noted that, in his work, “again and again, insight is dramatized by showing the conflict between what is ordinarily seen, ordinarily understood, and what now is experienced as real.  Cracking the shell of the world; or finding that the shell is cracking under you.”

Mr. Bidart has received numerous honors for his work including the Wallace Stevens Award, a Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 2007, and the Bollingen Prize from Beinecke Library of Yale University.  He was appointed a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2003 and served a six-year term.

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