Ralph Angel reading at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, Los Angeles.
|Occupation||Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Redlands|
|Notable work(s)||Exceptions and Melancholies|
|Notable award(s)||2007 PEN USA Literary Award|
Ralph Angel, a second-generation American of Sephardic Jewish descent, was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1951. He attended inner-city public schools there, and, while working freight trains for the Union Pacific Railroad, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Washington. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of California, Irvine, and has lived in and around Los Angeles ever since. He is currently Edith R. White Distinguished Professor at the University of Redlands, and a member of the MFA in Writing faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Angel has traveled widely in Europe, North Africa, and Central and South America. He commented in the “Afterword” to his translation of the Federico García Lorca collection, Poema del cante jondo: “I come from a household of three languages—Ladino, Hebrew, and English— one that I could understand but not speak, one that I could sing but not understand, and one that is the language of my country, at some distance, always, from my home.” When he came to translate Lorca’s poetry, he noted that he was familiar with the music that the poems paid homage to: “It resembled the incantatory medieval singing of the Sephardic synagogue that I grew up in.”
Angel’s spare lyrics are set in an urban landscape that seems timeless, universal, and historical. In his 1996 Los Angeles Times review of Neither World (Miami University Press, 1995) Mark Doty stated: "The Los Angeles that Angel's poetry occupies and creates is never named, and for good reason, since it is not local but broadly American, a version of the psychological landscape of any American city today."
His first collection, Anxious Latitudes (Wesleyan University Press, 1986), was widely praised and reviewed. His second book, Neither World (Miami University Press, 1995), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, garnered him national prominence. A third work, Twice Removed (Sarabande Books, 2001), was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His fourth collection, Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 (Sarabande Books, 2006), was honored with the 2007 PEN USA Award for Poetry. His most recent collection, Your Moon (New Issues Poetry and Prose, forthcoming) was awarded the 2013 Green Rose Poetry Prize. And his translation of the Federico García Lorca collection, Poema del cante jondo / Poem of the Deep Song, received a Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize.
His poems have appeared in scores of magazines in the US and abroad, and have been collected in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Poetry, American Hybrid, Poets of the New Century, and Forgotten Language. Other recent literary awards include a gift from the Elgin Cox Trust, a Pushcart Prize, the Gertrude Stein Award, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship, and the Bess Hokin Award of the Modern Poetry Association.
- 1986 — Anxious Latitudes (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press)
- 1995 — Neither World (Oxford, Ohio: Miami University Press), winner of the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets
- 2001 — Twice Removed, (Louisville, Kentucky: Sarabande Books), nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards
- 2006 Translator of Federico Garcia Lorca, Poem of the Deep Song, winner of the 2003 Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize
- 2006 — Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 (Louisville, Kentucky: Sarabande Books)
- Forthcoming — Your Moon Kalamazoo, MI: New Issues Poetry and Prose)
Awards and honors
- 2007 PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry for "Exceptions and Melancholies"
- Pushcart Prize
- An award from the Fulbright Foundation
- An award from The Modern Poetry Association
- A gift from the Elgin Cox Trust
- His "Shadow Play" (which originally appeared in Poetry) was included in The Best American Poetry 1988
- Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, 2003
-  Web page titled "Ralph Angel" at the Poetry Magazine Web site
-  Biographical sketch at Poets.org Web site of the Academy of American Poets
- Poetry online
-  At Poetry magazine Web site:
- "Breaking and Entering"
- "In Every Direction"
- "It takes a while to disappear"
- "Man in a Window"