Cyrus Cassells

poet laureate icon
1957 –
Poet Laureate of Texas, 2021–2022

Cyrus Cassells was born in Dover, Delaware, in 1957. He grew up in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles. He began writing poetry in high school. Cassells received a BA from Stanford University in film and broadcasting in 1979. 

Cassells is the author of Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? (Four Way Books, 2024), which was a finalist for the National Poetry Series; The World That the Shooter Left Us (Four Way Books, 2022), a Housatonic Book Award finalist; More Than Watchmen at Daybreak (Nine Mile Books, 2020); The Gospel According to Wild Indigo (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018); The Crossed-Out Swastika (Copper Canyon Press, 2012); More Than Peace and Cypresses (Copper Canyon Press, 2004); Beautiful Signor (Copper Canyon Press, 1997), which won the Lambda Literary Award; Soul Make a Path Through Shouting (Copper Canyon Press, 1994), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and received the William Carlos Williams Award; and The Mud Actor (Henry, Holt & Co., 1982), which was a National Poetry Series selection.

Cassells is the recipient of a 1995 Pushcart Prize, the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award, and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Still Life with Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2019), translated from the Catalan, was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translated Book of 2018 and 2019. In 2019, Cassells was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Criticism for his film and television reviews in the Washington Spectator

Cassells has worked as a translator, film critic, actor, and teacher. A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, Cassells lives in Austin and teaches at Texas State University, where he is currently a Regents’ Professor and a distinguished professor of English. In 2021, he received a Presidential Award for Scholarly/Creative Activities and was appointed Texas poet laureate. In 2022, Cassells received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. He served as the Guest Editor of Poem-a-Day in April 2024.