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Grace Schulman

Grace Schulman was born in New York City in 1935. At age fourteen, she sent her first poem to the poet Marianne Moore, a friend of her parents, marking the beginning of a long-lasting and influential friendship. She studied at Bard College, American University, and New York University, where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on Moore’s poetry.

Schulman is the author of several poetry collections, including Without a Claim (Mariner Books, 2013), The Broken String (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems (Mariner Books, 2003), which was a finalist for the Phi Beta Kappa Award, and Burn Down the Icons (Princeton University Press, 1976). The poet Rachel Hadas writes, “Throughout her distinguished career, Schulman’s lines have grown steadily more packed with meaning, more burnished and rich.”

Schulman, whom Harold Bloom has called “a vital and permanent poet,” is also the editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore (Viking Press, 2003) and the author of Marianne Moore: The Poetry of Engagement  (University of Illinois Press, 1986). From 1973 to 1985, she directed The Poetry Center at the 92nd Street Y, and from 1972 to 2006, she served as the poetry editor of the Nation.

She has received numerous grants and awards, including the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, five Pushcart Prizes, and fellowships from the New York Council on the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2016, she was awarded the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. In 2019, she was elected to the Academy of Arts and Letters. Schulman, Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY, lives in New York City and East Hampton, New York.

Selected Bibliography

Without a Claim (Mariner Books, 2013)
The Broken String (Houghton Mifflin, 2007)
Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems (Mariner Books, 2003)
The Paintings of Our Lives (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)
For That Day Only (Sheep Meadow Press, 1994)
Hemispheres (Sheep Meadow Press, 1984)
Burn Down the Icons (Princeton University Press, 1976)

Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage (Turtle Point Press, 2018)
First Loves and Other Adventures (University of Michigan Press, 2010)
Marianne Moore: The Poetry of Engagement (University of Illinois Press, 1986)

By This Poet



"And down and down and down,"
the toddler's mother sings 
as he clears every ledge.

Midway we cross their path.
In rain, the museum's steps 
loom like the Giant's Stairway

to Guardi's Ducal Palace. 
"And up and up and up" 
is what I do not say

as you stagger for balance. 
Once I'd scaled that summit, 
hunted over the crowd,

and saw you below, holding 
two hot dogs and white roses;
you vaulted, took the steps

two at a time, then three, 
and leaped to where we met. 
Your smile is broader now.

You see more. On this day 
of wavering, we hear 
a Triton blow the horn

where Giotto's Magi open
hands that rise in air:
up, and up, and up.


Rain hazes a street cart's green umbrella
but not its apples, heaped in paper cartons,
dry under cling film. The apple man,

who shirrs his mouth as though eating tart fruit,
exhibits four like racehorses at auction:
Blacktwig, Holland, Crimson King, Salome.

I tried one and its cold grain jolted memory:
a hill where meager apples fell so bruised
that locals wondered why we scooped them up,

my friend and I, in matching navy blazers.
One bite and I heard her laughter toll,
free as school's out, her face flushed in late sun.

I asked the apple merchant for another,
jaunty as Cezanne's still-life reds and yellows,
having more life than stillness, telling us,

uncut, unpeeled, they are not for the feast
but for themselves, and building strength to fly
at any moment, leap from a skewed bowl,

whirl in the air, and roll off a tilted table.
Fruit-stand vendor, master of Northern Spies,
let a loose apple teach me how to spin

at random, burn in light and rave in shadows.
Bring me a Winesap like the one Eve tasted,
savored and shared, and asked for more.

No fool, she knew that beauty strikes just once,
hard, never in comfort. For that bitter fruit,
tasting of earth and song, I'd risk exile.

The air is bland here. I would forfeit mist
for hail, put on a robe of dandelions,
and run out, broken, to weep and curse — for joy.