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Poet, translator, librettist, editor and critic Annie Finch was born in New Rochelle, New York, on October 31, 1956. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale, a master’s in creative writing from the University of Houston, and a doctorate from Stanford University.
Finch’s books of poetry include Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2013); Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams (Red Hen Press, 2010); Calendars (Tupelo, 2003), shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award; Eve (Story Line, 1997); and a translation of the Complete Poems of Louise Labé (University of Chicago Press, 2006). Her innovative performance poem The Encyclopedia of Scotland was published by Salt in 2004.
Numerous anthologies and textbooks include Finch’s work, and her poems have been featured in media outlets, including Voice of America to HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Musical or dance performances inspired by her poetry have been performed at various venues, such as the Spoleto Festival, Lawrence Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is also the author of two opera librettos, “Lily Among the Goddesses[ and “Marina,” based on the life of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, which premiered at American Opera Projects in New York.
Finch’s critical writings developing her ideas about poetry have been collected in The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self (University of Michigan Press, 2005) and The Ghost of Meter (University of Michigan Press, 1993). She has also edited several anthologies, including An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art (Univ. of Michigan Press, 2002), coedited with Kathrine Varnes, and A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women (Story Line,1994). In 1997, Finch founded WOM-PO, a national listserv devoted to discussions about women’s poetry.
Uniting all of Finch’s work is a concept of poetry as essentially incantatory, performative, speaking to the body as much as to the mind. The themes of Finch’s poems draw upon earth-centered spirituality, myth, sex, and childbirth. A practicing Wiccan, her poetry is inspired largely by her relationship with the natural world, especially the landscapes of Maine.
About Finch’s work, Ron Silliman has said,
Annie Finch is an American original, a master of control who shows no fear of excess, and none of quietness either. With a perfect-pitch ear for the American tongue, she is a formalist as much in the tradition of Robert Duncan and Bernadette Mayer as of Hart Crane and John Berryman. Calendars is a marvelous book, filled with poems whose directness and simplicity are deceptive—they have depths and delights that appear to go on forever.
Finch teaches independently and lives on the coast of Maine.