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William Logan

William Logan was born in 1950 in Boston and raised in a fishing village on the southern coast of Massachusetts. He received his BA from Yale University in 1972 and his MFA from the University of Iowa in 1975.

Logan is the author of several poetry collections, including Rift of Light (Penguin, 2017); Madame X (Penguin, 2012); Deception Island: Selected Early Poems, 1974–1999 (Salt Publishing, 2011); Strange Flesh (Penguin, 2008); and The Whispering Gallery (Penguin, 2005). He is also the author of seven books of criticism, including Dickinson's Nerves, Frost's Woods: Poetry in the Shadow of the Past (Columbia University Press, 2018), Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure: The Dirty Art of Poetry (Columbia University Press, 2014), and Our Savage Art: Poetry and the Civil Tongue (Columbia University Press, 2009).

Logan’s honors include the Sewanee Review’s Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry, the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence, the National Book Critics Circle’s Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, the Peter I. B Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets, Poetry’s J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize, and the inaugural Randall Jarrell Award in Criticism. He has also been the recipient of grants from Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Florida Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The former director of the University of Florida’s creative writing program from 1983 to 2000, Logan has written poetry criticism for the New York Times Book Review and teaches at the University of Florida. He splits his time between Gainesville, Florida, and Cambridge, England.

Selected Bibliography


Rift of Light (Penguin Books, 2017)
Madame X (Penguin Books, 2012)
Deception Island: Selected Early Poems, 1974–1999 (Salt Publishing, 2011)
Strange Flesh (Penguin Books, 2008)
The Whispering Gallery (Penguin Books, 2005)
Macbeth in Venice (Penguin Books, 2003)
Night Battle (Penguin Books, 1999)
Vain Empires (Penguin Books, 1998)
Sullen Weedy Lakes (David Godine, 1988)
Difficulty (David Godine, 1985)
Sad-faced Men (David Godine, 1982)


Dickinson's Nerves, Frost's Woods: Poetry in the Shadow of the Past (Columbia University Press, 2018)
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure: The Dirty Art of Poetry (Columbia University Press, 2014)
Our Savage Art: Poetry and the Civil Tongue (Columbia University Press, 2009)
The Undiscovered Country (Columbia University Press, 2005)
Desperate Measures (University Press of Florida, 2002)
Reputations of the Tongue: On Poets and Poetry (University Press of Florida, 1999)
All the Rage (University of Michigan Press, 1998)

By This Poet


The Ship

The sunlight burned like wire on the water,
that morning the ghost ship drove upriver.
The only witness was a Jersey cow.

Florid and testy, a miniature industrialist,
the steam tug spouted its fiery plume of smoke,
and on the bank the dead trout lolled,

beyond the reach of the fishermen now.
From a distance the fish lay sprawled like sailors
after a great sea battle, the masts and spars

splintered like matchsticks on the water; the mist
hovering over inlets, cannon-smoke drifting
off the now-purple, now-green bloom of river.

In shadow a train inched across a brick viaduct
ruling the still-dark valley,
as aqueducts once bullied the dawn campagna.

The cows resented the Cincinnatus patriot,
knowing they too were bred for slaughter.
The morning was a painting: the battered warship

hung with dawn lights like a chestful of medals,
the barren canvas of the Thames, empty out of respect,
the steam tug beetling to the breaker's yard.

The sun lay on the horizon like a vegetable.


The faucets squeeze 
out a dribble of rust.  
The stained slip-covers 

fray like seaweed. Scruffy, haggled
weeds confined to broken pots; 
shy, disfigured poppies; 

a barked rose succumbing
to white-frocked aphids—
the garden doesn't work. The heater

doesn't work. Nothing works.
Who lives in such a house?  
The pipes piss and moan,

as if forced to pay taxes.
If there are dream houses, 
are there undreamed houses

full of the things we desire,
or only those we deserve?
Perhaps they are the homes 

of strange gods with some
incomprehensible, whimsical 
way of looking at things.

You said we waded through the mysteries to get here.

Summer in the Ordinary

Eppur si muove

The iris wavers as the fox trots by,
mornings in paradise, or what pretends
by any other name to smell of meat.
What were we then that we did not become?
The water touched the image of the beast;
old factories of iron muted the plain.
They were of no consequence, those sun-dark days
before the word fell hard upon the ear.
The Indian corn, I mean the poppy fields,
carpets of color sown and yet not sown,
ideas that rose to metal and to brick.
That too was passion. Naked, in need of need,
we had heard of passion. We knew ourselves
that first first morning when we woke, and died.