Poet and novelist Nathaniel Mackey was born in 1947 in Miami, Florida. He received a BA degree from Princeton University and a PhD from Stanford University.
His books of poetry include Eroding Witness (Selva Oscura Press, 2018), Blue Fasa (New Directions, 2015), Nod House (New Directions, 2011); Splay Anthem (New Directions, 2006), which won the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry; Eroding Witness (University of Illinois Press, 1985), which was selected for the National Poetry Series; and Four for Trane (Golemics, 1978).
He is also the author of an ongoing prose work, From A Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, of which four volumes have been published: Bass Cathedral (New Directions, 2008), Atet A. D. (City Lights, 2001), Djbot Baghostus's Run (Sun & Moon Press, 1993), and Bedouin Hornbook (University of Kentucky Press, 1986), the first three of which are collected in From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate: Volumes 1-3 (New Directions, 2010).
The poet Robin Blaser has called Mackey's work "a brilliant renewal of and experiment with the language of our spiritual condition and a measure of what poetry gives in trust—'heart's/meat' and the rush of language to bear it."
Also a critic and literary theorist, Mackey is the author of Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing (Cambridge University Press, 1993). With Carolyn Kizer, John Hollander, Robert Hass, and Marjorie Perloff, he is a coeditor of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century (Library of America, 2000), and with Art Lange, of Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993). He also edits the magazine Hambone. In 1995, Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25, a compact disc recording of poems read with musical accompaniment, was released.
Nathaniel Mackey has received numerous awards including a Whiting Writer’s Award and a 2010 Guggenheim fellowship. He is the Reynolds Price Professor of English at Duke University and served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007. Mackey currently lives in Durham, North Carolina.