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Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson was born in 1973 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a BA from Wesleyan University in 1994 and a PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2004.

She is the author of the poetry collections Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007), Jane: A Murder (Soft Skull Press, 2005), The Latest Winter (Hanging Loose Press, 2003), and Shiner (Hanging Loose Press, 2001).

Nelson has also published several works of lyrical prose, including The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015), which received the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and Bluets (Wave Books, 2009). Of Bluets, the poet Rob Schlegel writes, “The result not only defies easy categorization, but also leans toward Walter Benjamin’s famous declaration that all great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one.”

Nelson has also received fellowships from the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. She currently teaches at the California Institute of the Arts. She lives in Los Angeles with her partner, the artist Harry Dodge.

Selected Bibliography

Shiner (Hanging Loose Press, 2001)
The Latest Winter (Hanging Loose Press, 2003)
Jane: A Murder (Soft Skull Press, 2005)
Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007)

The Argonauts (Graywolf Press, 2015)
Bluets (Wave Books, 2009)
The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (W. W. Norton, 2011)
The Red Parts (Free Press, 2007)
Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007)

By This Poet



The spirit of Jane 
lives on in you,
my mother says

trying to describe
who I am. I feel like the girl
in the late-night movie

who gazes up in horror
at the portrait of
her freaky ancestor

as she realizes 
they wear the same
gaudy pendant

round their necks.
For as long as I can
remember, my grandfather

has made the same slip:
he sits in his kitchen,
his gelatinous blue eyes

fixed on me. Well Jane, 
he says, I think I’ll have
another cup of coffee.