Katherine Larson

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Katherine Larson is an American poet, molecular biologist and field ecologist.[1][2] She is the 2010 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition and her first collection of poetry, Radial Symmetry, was published by Yale University Press in 2011.[3]

Family background, education and work[edit]

Larson's father worked as a professor of forestry and environmental science; her mother was a fourth-grade teacher with a passion for science.[1][4] She graduated from Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1996,[5] going on to the University of Arizona, where she took a Bachelor of Science degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing and English.[4] She also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Virginia,[4][6] where she was a Henry Hoyns fellow in creative writing.[7]

Larson works as a research scientist in the field of molecular biology.[8]


Larson's work has appeared in anthologies such as Prentice Hall’s Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, as well as in the journals AGNI, Poetry, Boulevard, The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, and Poetry Northwest.[3][9][10] She has cited Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Pablo Neruda and Tomas Tranströmer among her formative influences, as well as Medbh McGuckian, Ciaran Carson and Seamus Heaney from a semester spent studying in Ireland when she was in college.[4] In 2003, Larson won a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and she is a recipient of The Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Poetry Prize.[3]

In 2009 Larson collaborated with artist Heather Green on The Ghost Net Project at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center. 25 shadow boxes, each paired with a poem by Larson, were constructed from salvaged shrimp-boat wood and filled with flotsam and jetsam as a way of examining cultural and ecological relationships in the Gulf of California, where Larson had lived and worked for six months.[4][11][12][13]

In 2010, Larson was selected by Louise Glück as winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition.[9] Her first collection of poetry, Radial Symmetry, was published by Yale University Press in 2011.[2][14][15] The book was praised in The Independent for "an extraordinary wakefulness, an immersion in nuance that enriches experience",[15] while The Paris Review said: "The natural world has never felt more physical, more alive with tiny movements and infinite textures".[16] Bookforum enjoyed its "measured sensuousness".[17]

In 2012, Radial Symmetry won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the $10,000 award given annually to poets of promise by Claremont Graduate University.[6][18] The collection was also awarded the Levis Reading Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University and the ForeWord Magazine Gold Medal Prize in the Poetry Category.[14]

In an interview with The Kenyon Review, Larson said: "I live more authentically when I write. I pay more attention. I’m more curious. More imaginative. I ask more interesting questions. Writing allows me to approach my life with a greater passion", adding: "When I’m able to spend at least part of my life fully traversing the landscape of my mind, I’m paradoxically able to be more present to the people and the world around me."[8]

Larson lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and daughter.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b c "On the NewsHour: Poet Katherine Larson", PBS NewsHour, 14 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  2. ^ a b Larson, Katherine. Radial Symmetry, Yale: Yale University Press (2011).
  3. ^ a b c d "Katherine Larson", Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  4. ^ a b c d e "A Conversation with Katherine Larson", Blackbird, 21 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  5. ^ "Scholar Update", Flinn Foundation. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  6. ^ a b "Alum adds another major poetry award", Flinn Foundation, 08 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  7. ^ "Poet, Scientist Katherine Larson In Pursuit of the Unconscious", UVA Top News Daily, 22 June 2004. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  8. ^ a b Johnson, Grant. “Writing Allows Me to Approach My Life with a Greater Passion”: Micro-Interview with Katherine Larson", The Kenyon Review, 15 March 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  9. ^ a b "Louise Glück Chooses Katherine Larson as 2010 Yale Younger Poet", Yale University Press, 9 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  10. ^ "Love at Thirty-two Degrees by Katherine Larson", Poetry, March 2006. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  11. ^ Green, Heather & Larson, Katherine. "Ghost Net Project", 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  12. ^ Regan, Margaret. "Sea Change: Artist Heather Green converts flotsam into something rich and strange", Tucson Weekly, 10 September 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  13. ^ "Oh Earth, Wait for Me": Conversations about Art and Ecology", University of Arizona, September 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  14. ^ a b "Radial Symmetry", Yale University Press, 28 March 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  15. ^ a b Etter, Carrie. "Radial Symmetry by Katherine Larson", The Independent, 29 May 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  16. ^ Rudick, Nicole. "Staff Picks: Robert Walser, Katherine Larson", The Paris Review, 13 May 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  17. ^ Plunkett, Adam. “Why Critics Praise Bad Poetry”, Bookforum, 15 September 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  18. ^ "CGU announces winners of 2012 Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards", Claremont Graduate University, 1 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-25.