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Brad Leithauser

Brad Leithauser was born in 1953 in Detroit, Michigan. He received a BA from Harvard College in 1975, where he studied with the poet Elizabeth Bishop and met the poet Mary Jo Salter, whom he later married. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1980, after which he moved to Japan and worked at the Kyoto Comparative Law Center for three years.

He is the author of several poetry collections, including The Oldest Word for Dawn: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), Curves and Angles: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), and Hundreds of Fireflies: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1981). His poems are often characterized by their formal structures and attention to nature; John Updike has called him “a rhyming family man, amateur cosmologist, and addict of intricate stanzas.”

He is also the author of two books of light verse, an essay collection, and several novels, including the cross-genre Darlington’s Fall: A Novel in Verse (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002). He is the recipient of an Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship, a Fulbright lectureship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Grant, and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2005 he was awarded Iceland’s Order of the Falcon for his efforts to introduce Icelandic literature to an American audience.

Leithauser taught at Mount Holyoke College for twenty-one years, where he shared a full-time faculty position with Mary Jo Salter, from whom he is now divorced. He now teaches at the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and lives in Baltimore.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
The Oldest Word for Dawn: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013)
Curves and Angles: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)
The Odd Last Thing She Did (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998)
The Mail From Anywhere (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990)
Hundreds of Fireflies: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1981)

Prose
The Art Student’s War (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)
Darlington’s Fall: A Novel in Verse (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)

By This Poet

1

North-Looking Room

In a seldom-entered attic
you force a balky door,
disclosing a room made brilliant
by an orange tree whose branches bear


no fruit but maple leaves;
We’re in New England, after all.
Though rippling foliage fills
the pane, the flush that tints the wall


will last a week or two, no more.


*

And this conception, if consoling,
of a high, untenanted room
lit solely by a tree
houses as well–at least for those


who’d sidestep round the fear
that in the give-and-take of calls
to answer, calls to make,
we lose the light most dim, most clear—


a reprimand no breeze can shake.