Richard Howard was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 13, 1929. He received his BA from Columbia University, where he was the editor of The Columbia Review, in 1951. Allen Ginsberg and John Hollander were his classmates. After earning an MA in 1952, Howard then studied at the Sorbonne as a fellow of the French government.
He is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, including Trappings: New Poems (Turtle Point Press, 1999); Like Most Revelations: New Poems (Pantheon, 1994); Selected Poems (Penguin, 1991); No Traveller (Knopf, 1989); Findings (Atheneum, 1971); Untitled Subjects (Atheneum, 1969), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize; and Quantities (Wesleyan University Press, 1962). He has published more than 150 translations from the French, including works by André Gide, Jean Giraudoux, Jean Cocteau, Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Charles de Gaulle, André Breton, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Roland Barthes, Emil Cioran, Claude Simon, and Stendhal, as well as Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, for which he received the 1983 American Book Award (now, the National Book Award) for translation. He is also the author of Alone with America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States since 1950, which was first published in 1969 and expanded in 1980. In 1994, he edited the Library of America edition of the Travel Writings of Henry James, and, in 1995, The Best American Poetry.
His honors include the Levinson Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Literary Award, the Ordre National du Mérite from the French government, and the PEN Translation Medal, as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
After returning to the U.S. in 1954, he worked for four years as a lexicographer. In 1970, he became the editor of the Braziller Poets series at George Braziller, Inc., where he advanced the careers of younger poets, including Frank Bidart, Cynthia Macdonald, and Charles Simic. He was president of PEN American Center (1979–80) and poet laureate of New York state (1993–95). Howard formerly held teaching positions at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale, where he was the Luce Visiting Scholar in 1983, and at the University of Houston from 1987 to 1997. He served as the poetry editor of The Paris Review and Western Humanities Review. Howard was a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and lived in New York City, where he taught in the Writing Division of the School of the Arts, Columbia University.
Howard died on March 31, 2022 in Manhattan at age 92.
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