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Anne Carson


Anne Carson was born in Toronto, Ontario on June 21, 1950. With the help of a high school Latin instructor, she learned ancient Greek, which contributed to her continuing interest in classical and Hellenic literature. She attended St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and, despite leaving twice, received her BA in 1974, her MA in 1975 and her PhD in 1981. She also studied Greek metrics for a year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Since bursting onto the international poetry scene in 1987 with her long poem “Kinds of Water," Carson has published numerous books of poetry, including Float (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016); Red Doc> (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013); The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry; Autobiography of Red (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998); and Short Talks (Brick Books, 1992).

Also a Classics scholar, Carson is the translator of Electra (Oxford University Press, 2001), If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (Knopf, 2002), and An Oresteia (Faber and Faber, 2009), among others. She is also the author of Eros the Bittersweet (Princeton University Press, 1986).

Reviewers have praised the range of Carson’s verse, consistently describing her poetry as inventive, visionary, and highly unique. Scholars often discuss the influence of her academic history; Roger Gilbert has noted, “unlike many academic poets she deploys her scholarly voice as a dramatic instrument whose expressive power lies partly in its fragility.”

Her awards and honors include the Lannan Literary Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the MacArthur Fellowship. She was also the Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany.

Carson was the Director of Graduate Studies in Classics at McGill University and taught at Princeton University from 1980-1987. She has also taught classical languages and literature at Emory University, California College of the Arts, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan. She currently teaches in New York University’s creative writing program.

Selected Bibliography


Float (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016)
Antigonick(New Directions, 2015)
Red Doc> (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013)
NOX (New Directions, 2010)
Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005)
The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)
Men in the Off Hours (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000)
Autobiography of Red (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998)
Plainwater: Essays and Poetry (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996)
Glass, Irony and God (New Directions, 1995)
Short Talks (Brick Books, 1992)


Eros the Bittersweet (Princeton University Press, 1986)

By This Poet


Thunderstorm Stack

A bird flashed by as if mistaken then it
starts.  We do not think speed of life. 
We do not think why hate Jezebel?  We
think who’s that throwing trees against
the house?  Jezebel was a  Phoenician.
Phoenician thunderstorms are dry and
frightening, they arrive one inside the
other as torqued ellipses.

from Pinplay

Choral interlude followed by Act IV.
How many pins can dance on the head of a god?
How many kings can you pin to the dance in my head?
How many dances left stains on the woman he was?
How many stains kept him quiet, O Agave!

[enter Agave exultant and covered in blood, carrying the head of Pentheus impaled on a lacuna]


Speak, Agave.

I’ve come with the pins.

We welcome the pins.

I stained them as prizes.

We prize them as kings.

How many kings—

did you rip the cheeks off?

How many cheeks—

did you pin to the delicate mouth of the mother?

How many mouths did she need—

to finish the meat?

Not so many.

A happy number?

A clever number.

A realistic number?

A frolic of a number.

[Agave raises lacuna high in one hand then lowers it gradually as her mood changes]

But then again,
actually, not much of a number.

If you think about it?

A dismal little number.

If you study it closely?

Just a sob of a number.

O Agave!


Your sob has a name.

How many names can I pry from the head of a pun?

Just one.

O my son!

[Agave tosses lacuna to audience with Pentheus’ head attached]