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Maxine Chernoff


Maxine Chernoff was born on February 24, 1952, in Chicago and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

She is the author of over a dozen books of poetry, including Here (Counterpath, 2014), Without (Shearsman, 2012), and To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn, 2011).

A fiction author and translator as well as a poet, Chernoff is also the author of six books of fiction and The Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin (Omnidawn, 2008), which won the 2009 PEN Translation Award. With her husband, Paul Hoover, Chernoff founded and edited New American Writing.

A recipient of the Carl Sandburg Award in Poetry, as well as fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, Marin Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Chernoff currently serves as a professor and chair of the creative writing program at San Francisco State University. She lives in California.

Selected Bibliography


Here (Counterpath, 2014)
Without (Shearsman, 2012)
To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn, 2011)
The Turning (Apogee Press, 2008)
Among the Names (Apogee Press, 2005)
Evolution of the Bridge (Salt Publications, 2004)
World: Poems, 1991–2001 (Salt Publications, 2001)
Leap Year Day: New & Selected Poems (Another Chicago Press, 1990)
Japan (Avenue B Press, 1988)
New Faces of 1952 (Ithaca House, 1985)
Utopia TV Store (The Yellow Press, 1979)
A Vegetable Emergency (Beyond Baroque, 1976)
The Last Auroch (The Now Press, 1976)


The Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin (Omnidawn, 2008)

By This Poet


Miss Congeniality

Even as an embryo, she made room for "the other guy." Slick and 
bloody, she emerged quietly: Why spoil the doctor's best moment? 
When Dad ran over her tricycle, she smiled, and when Mom drowned 
her kittens, she curtsied, a Swiss statuette. Her teachers liked the way 
she sat at her desk, composed as yesterday's news. In high school she 
decorated her locker with heart-shaped doilies and only went so far, a 
cartoon kiss at the door. She read the classics, The Glamorous Dolly 
Madison, and dreamed of marrying the boy in the choir whose voice 
never changed. Wedding photos reveal a waterfall where her face 
should be. Her husband admired how she bound her feet to buff the 
linoleum. When she got old, she remembered to say pardon to the 
children she no longer recognized, smiling sons and daughters who sat 
at her bedside watching her fade to a wink.

[without a listener]

a voice speaks 

to rheumy stars

deadpan witness

no call and response

or supplicant's hope

all this hurts

the ocean suggests

as if waves

could privilege

ear's dumb gestures

or a ghost

of a sentence learn

to read its

own dried ink