Floyd Skloot (born 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American poet, novelist, and memoirist who has often written about the search for meaning through personal loss and the struggle for coherence in a fragmented world. Some of his work has dealt with his battle with neurological damage caused by a virus (brain lesions) he contracted in 1988.
Skloot received a B.A from Franklin & Marshall College and an M.A. in English at Southern Illinois University, where he studied with the Irish poet Thomas Kinsella. In 2006,Franklin & Marshall College awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. A New Yorker, Skloot moved to Portland, Oregon in 1984. He is married to painter Beverly Hallberg, who specializes in both abstract and impressionist landscapes and writes a blog (Rivermile14.com) with photographs about her activity as a birder. Skloot is the father of the bestselling non-fiction writer Rebecca Skloot, whose work includes The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Skloot and Hallberg live in Oregon.
Skloot is the author of twenty books, including the memoirs "In the Shadow of Memory," (2003) "A World of Light," (2005), "The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life," (2008) each published by the University of Nebraska Press, and "Revertigo: An Off-Kilter Memoir" (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014). His recent poetry collections are "The End of Dreams (2006)," "The Snow's Music (2008)," and "Approaching Winter(2015)," all from Louisiana State University Pres; "Close Reading (2014)" from Eyewear Publishing in the UK; and "Selected Poems: 1970-2005" from Tupelo Press (2008). He has contributed to publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Poetry, The Sewanee Review, Southern Review, Boulevard, Virginia Quarterly Review, "The Hopkins Review," Hudson Review, and Southwest Review. His book reviews have frequently appear in the Boston Globe,New York Times, and Harvard Review. Skloot and his daughter co-edited The Best American Science Writing 2011 for HarperCollins/Ecco, published in September 2011. He published his first collection of short stories in 2011, "Cream of Kohlrabi," from Tupelo Press.
His new novel, "The Phantom of Thomas Hardy," was published in October 2016 by the University of Wisconsin Press. It is a literary romp through Dorsetshire and Hardy’s tangled love life: On a street in Dorchester, England, there is a gateway between real and imagined lives. A plaque on a Barclays Bank identifies the building as “lived in by the Mayor of Casterbridge in Thomas Hardy’s story of that name written in 1885.” Floyd, an American writer, and his wife, Beverly, are pondering the enigma of a fictional character living in a factual building when Floyd is approached by Hardy himself—despite his death in 1928. This phantom—or is he just a figment of Floyd’s oddly damaged brain?—tasks Floyd with finding out what Hardy missed in love. Floyd and Beverly set out to discover what they can, visiting Hardy’s birthplace, home, and grave, exploring the Dorset landscape and the famous novels with their themes of tormented love, and meeting characters deeply invested in Hardy’s life and reputation. Peering into the Victorian past, they slowly fold back the clutter of screens that Hardy placed around his private life to uncover long-hidden truths about his romantic attachments and creative work. At the same time, Floyd and Beverly’s own love story unfolds, filled with healing and hope. Of "The Phantom of Thomas Hardy," Jeanne Marie Laskas, the bestselling author of "Concussion," says: “Only the inventive Floyd Skloot could come up with—and gorgeously pull off—an experiment like The Phantom of Thomas Hardy. With the intensity of a fevered dream, he seeks his own self-integration after brain trauma while digging around, assembling, and imagining the history of the elusive Hardy. Blending memoir, reportage, literary analysis, and historical fiction (who does that?) Skloot dazzles with the depth of his research, and enchants with his signature vivid, precise, and thoroughly delicious prose.”
Honors and awards
In January 2010, Poets & Writers, Inc. named Skloot "one of fifty of the most inspiring authors in the world." His awards include three Pushcart Prizes, the PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction, the Independent Publishers Book Award in Creative Nonfiction, two Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, and two Oregon Book Awards. He has also been a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award in Nonfiction, the PEN Award for the Art of the Essay, and the Paterson Poetry Prize. His work has been included twice each in "The Best American Essays," "The Best American Science Writing," "The Best Spiritual Writing," and "The Best Food Writing" annual anthologies, as well as in "The Penguin Book of the Sonnet," "The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction," "The Art of the Essay," and "The Best of the Best American Science Writing." In 2005, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in residence at their Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.
In May 2006 he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Franklin & Marshall College.
- The Night Side published by Story Line Press in 1996.
- In the Shadow of Memory published by University of Nebraska Press in 2003. Reprinted in UNP's Bison Books paperback series in 2004.
- The World of Light published by University of Nebraska Press in 2005. Reprinted in UNP's Bison Books paperback series in 2011.
- The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life published by University of Nebraska Press in 2008. Reprinted in UNP's Bison Books paperback series in 2011.
- Revertigo: An Off-Kilter Memoir University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
- Music Appreciation published by University Press of Florida. 1994
- The Fiddler's Trance published by Bucknell University Press. 2001
- The Evening Light published by Story Line Press. 2001
- Approximately Paradise published by Tupelo Press. 2005
- The End of Dreams published by Louisiana State Univ. Press. 2006
- Selected Poems: 1970-2005 published by Tupelo Press. 2008
- The Snow's Music published by Louisiana State Univ. Press 2008
- Close Reading published by Eyewear Publishing, UK, 2014
- Approaching Winter, Louisiana State University Press, 2015
- Pilgrim's Harbor a novel published by Story Line Press. 1992
- Summer Blue a novel published by Story Line Press. 1994
- The Open Door a novel published by Story Line Press. 1997
- Patient 002 a novel published by Rager Media. 2007
- Cream of Kohlrabi short stories published by Tupelo Press. 2011
- The Phantom of Thomas Hardy a novel published by the University of Wisconsin Press, 2016 (forthcoming October 2016)
- The Best American Science Writing 2011, co-edited with Rebecca Skloot, published by HarperCollins/Ecco Press. September 2011
- "Library of Congress Authorities". LCNAF CIP data - LC Control Number: nr 93015888. LOC. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "Frames of mind ; Writer and poet Floyd Skloot offers a powerful, candid memoir of devastating brain damage" by Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2003
- "Shards of memory cut through the haze"