Brenda Shaughnessy

1970 –

Brenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa, Japan, in 1970 and grew up in Southern California. She received her BA in literature and women’s studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and she earned an MFA at Columbia University.

Shaughnessy is the author of five poetry collections: Tanya (Knopf, 2023); Liquid Flesh (Bloodaxe, 2022); The Octopus Museum (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019), a New York Times 2019 Notable Book; So Much Synth (Copper Canyon Press, 2016); Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon Press 2012), a finalist for the Griffin International Prize, the PEN/Open Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Prize; Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008; and Interior with Sudden Joy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999), which was nominated for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Norma Farber First Book Award. 

About Shaughnessy’s work, the poet Richard Howard writes:

The resonance of Shaughnessy’s poems is that of someone speaking out of an ecstasy and into an ecstasy, momentarily pausing to let us in on the fun, the pain.

Shaughnessy received a 2018 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is a 2013 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, a recipient of a Howard Foundation Fellowship from Brown University, a 2001 Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and a Japan/US Friendship Commission Artist Fellowship. She currently serves as an associate professor at Rutgers University–Newark. Shaughnessy was Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day in March 2022.