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Stephen Sandy


Stephen Sandy was born on August 2, 1934, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After serving in the Navy for a short time, he enrolled in Yale College in 1951 and graduated with a BA in English in 1955. In September 1957, he entered Harvard University, during which time he attended Robert Lowell’s poetry workshop at Boston University and studied with Archibald MacLeish. He earned his MA in 1959 and PhD in 1963. That same year, Sandy joined the Harvard University faculty as a full-time instructor in English. In 1967, Sandy started his yearlong tenure as a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Tokyo. Upon his return, he joined the English faculty at Brown University. The following year, he moved to Bennington, Vermont, where he taught at Bennington College.

Sandy is the author of eleven books of poetry, the most recent of which include Overlook (Louisiana State University Press, 2010), Netsuke Days (Shires Press, 2008), and Weathers Permitting (Louisiana State University Press, 2005).

Poet J. D. McClatchy writes, “Sandy’s poems have an infectious curiosity, a moral weight and witty balance. They speak from and to the heart.”

Sandy’s honors include fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Vermont Council on the Arts. In 2006, he was awarded an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died on November 7, 2016, in Bennington, Vermont.

Selected Bibliography


Overlook (Louisiana State University Press, 2010)
Netsuke Days (Shires Press, 2008)
Weathers Permitting (Louisiana State University Press, 2005)
Surface Impressions (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)
Black Box (Louisiana State University Press, 1999)
The Thread, New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1998)
Thanksgiving Over the Water (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992)
Man in the Open Air (Alfred A. Knopf, 1988)
Riding to Greylock (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983)
Roofs (Houghton Mifflin, 1971)
Stresses in the Peaceable Kingdom (Houghton Mifflin, 1967)


The Raveling of the Novel, Studies in Romantic Fiction from Walpole to Scott (Arno Press, 1980)

Stephen Sandy
Photo credit: Star Black

By This Poet


Parking Lot

Hard to believe the racket geese make, squabbling, 
holding a confab in the dark--pitch dark to him 
padding back to check the lights; yes, the windows 
are dark.
      But that honking down on the pond, like angry 
taxis, stops him: late geese on their way--he thinks-- 
homeward. But geese are home, wherever. A continent. 
Are acting without accomplices; no past
or future to know. That squawky banter is 
an irremediable thing.
                  He makes for his car, the office 
shut down. Now someone passes him. They know each other--
each speaks with mild surprise the other's name, 
no more. And heads his separate way across the dark.


Cretan farmers still press their olives. Swallow
retsina, tend their flocks. Our scholars know
—oracular computers tell them so—

it’s just as the Minoans did. Do we
know them then, the Minoans? Is their debris
ours too? Rather consider to what degree

warehouse palaces are dazzlements,
and through the dark mullions of romance
see for once that we see nothing, nothing. 

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