Linda Pastan

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Linda Pastan
Pastan in 2014
Pastan in 2014
BornLinda B Olenik
(1932-05-27)May 27, 1932
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 30, 2023(2023-01-30) (aged 90)
Chevy Chase, Maryland, U.S.
SpouseIra Pastan

Linda Pastan (May 27, 1932 – January 30, 2023) was an American poet of Jewish background. From 1991 to 1995 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland.[1] She was known for writing short poems that address topics like family life, domesticity, motherhood, the female experience, aging, death, loss and the fear of loss, as well as the fragility of life and relationships. Her final collection of poetry was Almost an Elegy, published in 2022.

Early life[edit]

Linda B Olenik was born in the Bronx, New York on May 27, 1932. Her father was a Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe, who became a surgeon. Her mother was a homemaker. An only child, she was raised in Armonk, New York. At age 12, she submitted her first poems to The New Yorker.[2]

She received a bachelor's degree from Radcliffe College in 1954, a master's degree in library science from Simmons University in 1955, and a master's degree in English and American literature from Brandeis University in 1958.[2]

Career in writing[edit]

Pastan published 15 books of poetry and a number of essays. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award (Poetry Society of America), the Bess Hokin Prize (Poetry Magazine), the 1986 Maurice English Poetry Award (for A Fraction of Darkness),[3] the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She also received the Radcliffe College Distinguished Alumnae Award.

Two of her collections of poems were nominated for the National Book Award and one for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.[4]

Personal life and death[edit]

She married Ira Pastan, a physician and researcher, in 1953. The couple had three children.[2]

As of 2018, the Pastans lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Pastan died at her home in Chevy Chase on January 30, 2023, at the age of 90, from complications following cancer surgery.[2]


Poetry collections[edit]

  • A Perfect Circle of Sun. Chicago: Swallow Press. 1971. ISBN 9780804005531.
  • On the Way to the Zoo. illustrated by Raya Bodnarchuk. Washington: Dryad Press. 1975. OCLC 1173801.
  • Aspects of Eve (1st ed.). New York: Liveright. 1975. ISBN 9780871401021.
  • The Five Stages of Grief (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1978. ISBN 9780393044898.
  • Selected Poems of Linda Pastan. London: J. Murray. 1979. ISBN 9780719536694.
  • Setting the Table. illustrated by Mark Leithauser. Washington: Dryad Press. 1980. ISBN 9780931848261.
  • Waiting for My Life (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1981. ISBN 9780393000498.
  • PM/AM (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1982. ISBN 9780393300550.
  • A Fraction of Darkness (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1985. ISBN 9780393302516.
  • The Imperfect Paradise (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1988. ISBN 9780393025651.
  • Heroes in Disguise (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1991. ISBN 9780393309225.
  • An Early Afterlife (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1995. ISBN 9780393313819.
  • Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems, 1968–1998 (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 1998. ISBN 9780393046311.
  • The Last Uncle (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 2002. ISBN 9780393325300.
  • Queen of a Rainy Country (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 2006. ISBN 9780393331417.
  • Traveling Light (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 2011. ISBN 9780393079074.
  • Insomnia. New York: Norton. 2015. ISBN 9780393247183.
  • A Dog Runs Through It (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 2018. ISBN 9780393651300.
  • Almost an Elegy: New and Later Selected Poems (1st ed.). New York: Norton. 2022. ISBN 9781324021490.


  1. ^ "Maryland at a Glance: Poets Laureate". Maryland State Archives. August 26, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Langer, Emily. "Linda Pastan, poet of concentrated beauty, dies at 90". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  3. ^ "1994 Faculty" Archived 2008-07-09 at the Wayback Machine, webpage of Middlebury College. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  4. ^ "Linda Pastan". January 4, 2022.

External links[edit]

External media
audio icon Linda Pastan reads "why are your poems so dark?" from the book Queen of a Rainy Country (via
video icon Interview with Linda Pastan. Brown, Jeffrey. 2003. "Conversation: Pastan". In: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. (7 July 2003). Online NewsHour.
video icon Poetry Reading by Linda Pastan at the 10th Beall Poetry Festival, Baylor University, Waco, Texas (2 April 2004).
video icon Beall Poetry Festival: Panel including Denis Donoghue, Galway Kinnell and Linda Pastan, Baylor University, Waco, Texas (3 April 2004).
video icon Poetry Reading by Linda Pastan at the National Book Festival 2004, Washington D.C. (October 2004).