Annie Finch

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Annie Finch
Annie Finch hands 2.9 mb.jpg
Born (1956-10-31) October 31, 1956 (age 61)
New Rochelle, New York, USA
Occupation poet, writer, librettist, translator
Alma mater Yale University,
University of Houston,
Stanford University
Genre poetry
Notable works Eve, Calendars, The Body of Poetry, Among the Goddesses, Spells: New and Selected Poems
Notable awards Robert Fitzgerald Award
2009
Sarasvati Award
2012

Annie Finch (born October 31, 1956, New Rochelle, New York) is an American poet and writer. Her books include poetry, verse drama, poetry translation, poetic theory, essays on poetry, edited poetry anthologies, and a poetry-writing guide. Finch earned a B.A.in English from Yale University, M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, and Ph.D from Stanford University. Dictionary of Literary Biography names her "one of the central figures in contemporary American poetry" for her role, as poet and critic, in the contemporary reclamation of poetic meter and form.[1] She has received the 2010 Sarasvati Award for Poetry and the 1990 Robert Fitzgerald Award for her lifetime contribution to the art of versification.

Early life and The Encyclopedia of Scotland[edit]

In "Desks," an autobiographical essay in The Body of Poetry, Finch discusses how the poetry of her mother, poet Margaret Rockwell Finch [2] and the ideas of her father, philosophy scholar Henry L. Finch, influenced her work.[3]. After graduating from Yale, Finch moved to the East Village in New York City where she self-published and performed in musical productions of her experimental longpoem The Encyclopedia of Scotland, later published by Salt Publishing in the U.K..[4] She earned an MA in creative writing at the University of Houston, with poet and playwright Ntozake Shange as her thesis director in verse drama, and published her landmark essay "Dickinson and Patriarchal Meter: A Theory of Metrical Codes" in PMLA before beginning her graduate studies in poetry and feminist theory at Stanford University. In 1985 she married environmental advocate Glen Brand at the Rothko Chapel. They have two children, Julian Brand and Althea Finch.

Poetic career[edit]

Finch's second book Eve (Story Line Press, 1997), was a finalist for awards including the National Poetry Series and the Yale Series of Younger Poets.[5] Her third book, Calendars (Tupelo Press, 2003), was shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year.[6] Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams, applying elements of opera libretto and epic poem to the themes of abortion and goddess-centered spirituality, was awarded the 2012 Sarasvati Award for Poetry from the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. Finch's translation from French of the poetry of Louise Labé was published by University of Chicago Press, honored by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, and represented in the Norton Anthology of World Literature. A selected volume, Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), excerpts her previous books, along with fifty new or previously unpublished poems including "the lost poems," nonreferential poems in meter written during the 1980s."[7]

Finch's poems for public occasions include the keynote poem for the Inauguration of the Women's Poetry Timeline at the National Museum for Women in the Arts, the 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Poem for Yale University, and the memorial poem for the September 11 attacks accompanying the commemorative sculpture by Meredith Bergmann installed in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine.[8] Her interest in reaching a wide audience with poetry is discussed in essays such as "Occasioning Occasional Poetry" and "Where Are You, General Audience?".[9][10]

Finch's poetry has been collected in numerous anthologies and was selected by Rita Dove for inclusion in the 2011 Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry.

Creative collaborations and performance[edit]

A number of composers have set Finch's poetry to music. Her opera libretto, Marina, based on the life of poet Marina Tsvetaeva, was produced by American Opera Projects in 2003 with music by Deborah Drattell, directed by Anne Bogart, and sung by Lauren Flanigan. Finch's multimedia verse plays include Wolf Song, premiered at Portland, Maine's Mayo Street Arts.

Earth-centered spirituality[edit]

Themes and images in Finch's work have been inspired by earth-centered spirituality. Claire Keyes notes in Scribner's American Writers, "A strong current in [Finch's] work is the decentering of the self, a theme which stems from her deep connection with the natural world and her perception of the self as part of nature."[11] The structure of Eve is based on a series of poems on Goddesses, and Calendars is organized around the pagan Wheel of the Year. In an interview, Finch stated, "My own poetry has long been heading in a deeply emotional and often spiritual direction. Some of my poems are lyric, some narrative, some dramatic, and some meditative, but all are concerned with the mystery of the embodied sacred, whether in relationships with nature or other people, or with spiritual issues more directly.".[12] Finch became public about her spirituality when she started a blog called American Witch in December 2009.[13] Since 2013 she has been publishing nonfiction prose about witchcraft and goddess spirituality in the Huffington Post, including "The Seven Best Things About Being a Wiccan" [14] and "Nine Goddesses Every Woman Should Know." [15] She writes in the preface of her 2013 collection Spells: New and Selected Poems that she considers her poems and verse plays to be "spells" whose rhythm and form invite readers "to experience words not just in the mind but in the body." [16]

Critical work and teaching[edit]

Much of Finch's poetics centers on the role of repetition and pattern. In the title essay of her book of essays The Body of Poetry, Finch traces a connection between poetic meter and form and a feminist approach to philosophy and spirituality.[17] Other essays in the collection describe her own creative process, discuss translation and women's poetic traditions, and advocate for "Metrical Diversity," the idea that formal poetry is more versatile, effective, and eloquent when it encompasses other metrical patterns in addition to iambic meter.[18] Her many edited or coedited anthologies of poetry include the popular collections A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women, Villanelles,and Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters. Her books on writing poetry, such as An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, coedited with Kathrine Varnes, and A Poet's Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry, which includes a guide to writing in meter and has been called "nothing less than an MFA program in 600 pages", are assigned widely in university writing programs.[19][20]

Finch's critical writings on women's poetic traditions, notably her 1987 article on metaphor and subjectivity in the poetry of Lydia Sigourney, are also influential, known for being perhaps the first to take a serious critical approach to the aesthetic she has called "poetess poetics.".[21]

Finch has taught writing as a faculty member at New College of California, Miami University, Stonecoast MFA Program, where she served as Director from 2004 to 2013, and at the MFA in Creative Writing Program at St. Francis College. She has taught at many writing conferences, including West Chester Poetry Conference and Poetry by the Sea, as well as at women's conferences including A Room of Her Own and Where Womyn Gather. In 1997, she founded the Discussion of Women Poets listserv, known as Wom-Po, and facilitated that community until 2004 when she passed that role on to poet Amy King.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • 2012 Among the Goddesses Awarded Sarasvati Award for Poetry by the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology
  • 2009 Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award
  • 2008 Fellowship, Black Earth Institute
  • 2006 Complete Poetry of Louise Labe Awarded Honorable Mention for a translation in the field of women’s studies by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women
  • 2005 Alumni Award, University of Houston Creative Writing Program
  • 2003 Calendars a finalist for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award
  • 1993 Nicholas Roerich Fellow, Wesleyan Writers Conference

Works[edit]

Books of Poetry[edit]

  • Spells: New and Selected Poems. Wesleyan University Press, 2012.
  • Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams Red Hen Press, 2010. [Winner, Sarasvati Award for Poetry, Association for the Study of Women and Mythology].
  • The Complete Poetry and Prose of Louise Labé: A Bilingual Edition. Edited with Critical Introductions and Prose Translations by Deborah Lesko Baker and Poetry Translations by Annie Finch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. (Translation).
  • Calendars. Tupelo Press, 2003. [Shortlisted, Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award for 2003]. Second edition with Audio CD and downloadable Readers' Companion, 2008.
  • Eve. Story Line Press. 1997. [Finalist, National Poetry Series, Yale Series of Younger Poets, Brittingham Prize].
  • The Encyclopedia of Scotland. Caribou Press, 1982; Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2005.

Poetics[edit]

  • A Poet’s Ear: A Handbook of Meter and Form. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.
  • A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Shaping Your Poems. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012.
  • The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self. Poets on Poetry Series, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.
  • The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993. Paperback edition with new preface, 2001.

Poetry Chapbooks[edit]

  • Goddess Poems. Poetry Witch Press 2015 (self-published).
  • The Voice Was the Sea. Voices From the American Land, 2013.
  • Shadow-Bird: From the Lost Poems. Dusie Kollektiv/Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009.
  • Annie Finch's Greatest Hits: Poems 1975-2005. Pudding House, 2006.
  • Home Birth. Dos Madres Press, 2004.
  • Season Poems. Calliope Press, 2002.
  • Catching the Mermother. Aralia Press, 1996.
  • The Encyclopedia of Scotland: A Libretto. Caribou Press, 1982 (self-published).

Opera Libretti[edit]

  • Lily Among the Goddesses. Music by Deborah Drattell. Production in progress.
  • Marina. American Opera Projects, DR2 Theater, New York, 2003.

Edited books[edit]

  • Measure for Measure: The Music of Poetry. Coeditor with Alexandra Oliver. Random House: Everymans Library, 2015.
  • Villanelles. Coeditor with Marie-Elizabeth Mali. Random House: Everymans Library, 2012.
  • Multiformalisms: Postmodern Poetics of Form. Coeditor with Susan Schultz. WordTech Communications, 2008.
  • A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women. Brownsville, OR: Story Line Press, 1994. Reprinted by Wordtech Editions, 2007.
  • Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics. Coeditor with Maxine Kumin and Deborah Brown. University of Arkansas Press, 2005.
  • An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. With Katherine Varnes. University of Michigan Press, 2002.
  • Carolyn Kizer: Perspectives on Her Life and Work. Coeditor with Johanna Keller and Candace McClelland. CavanKerry Press, 2000.
  • After New Formalism: Poets on Form, Narrative, and Tradition. Brownsville, OR: Story Line Press, 1999.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barron, Jonathan N. "Annie Finch." Dictionary of Literary Biography 282, 101
  2. ^ Finch, Margaret Rockwell, Crone's Wines, Ablemuse Press, 2017
  3. ^ Finch, Annie. "Desks." The Body of Poetry, 106-110
  4. ^ Finch, Annie. "Preface." The Encyclopedia of Scotland, xi
  5. ^ MacDonald, C.G. "Review of Eve," Poetry Flash, Nov/Dec. 1998
  6. ^ Small Press Distribution Catalog. "Calendars,"
  7. ^ Finch, Annie. "Preface." Spells: New and Selected Poems, iv
  8. ^ Finch, Annie. "The Naming." "Poetry Witch Blog," Annie Finch's website
  9. ^ Harriet blog, Poetry Foundation, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/06/where-are-you-general-audience/
  10. ^ Harriet blog, Poetry Foundation, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/04/occasioning-poetry/
  11. ^ Keyes, Claire. "Annie Finch." Scribners American Writers Series 2009, 00
  12. ^ Finch, Annie. "An Interview with Annie Finch." Poemeleon http://www.poemeleon.org/an-interview-with-annie-finch/[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ http://annieridleycranefinch.blogspot.com/
  14. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/annie-finch/the-7-best-things-about-being-a-wiccan_b_3226803.html
  15. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/annie-finch/nine-goddesses-every-woma_b_5718345.html
  16. ^ Finch, Annie. "Preface." Spells: New and Selected Poems, xi
  17. ^ Finch, Annie. "The Body of Poetry" The Body of Poetry, 84
  18. ^ Finch, Annie. "Metrical Diversity." The Body of Poetry, 84-92
  19. ^ Brock, J. "Review of An Exaltation of Forms, Choice, September 2002
  20. ^ Palmer, G.M. "Why We Read: Spells by Annie Finch, The Critical Flame, September 2013
  21. ^ "The Sentimental Poetess in the World: Metaphor and Subjectivity in Lydia Sigourney's Nature Poetry, Legacy Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 1988), pp. 3-18

External links[edit]