Peter Gizzi

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Peter Gizzi
Peter Gizzi reading in 2011, in LA.
Born 1959
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Occupation professor
Genre poetry

Peter Gizzi (born in 1959 in Alma, Michigan) is an American poet, essayist, editor and teacher. He attended New York University, Brown University and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Life and career[edit]

Although born in Alma, Michigan, Gizzi spent most of his childhood and adolescence in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. After graduating high school, the poet delayed going to college and took a job in a factory winding resin tubes and in a residential treatment center working with emotionally disturbed adolescents. Working overnight at the treatment center, Gizzi read George Oppen's Collected Poems, along with H.D., Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Federico García Lorca, Baudelaire, Rimbaud "and almost anything published by Burning Deck." Living in New York City, in part to keep in touch with the punk scene, he walked by the St. Mark's book store one day and his eye was caught by a reprinted version of BLAST, with its shocking pink and diagonal title. He picked up a copy and read the manifestos. "I was home in that synthesis — Punk and Poetry had merged and I knew at once I wanted to edit my own journal and so I did," he later wrote.[1]

By the late 1980s, he was waiting tables, reading and editing o•blék: a journal of language arts,[1] which he founded in 1987 with Connell McGrath.

In 1991, he started editing the lectures of Jack Spicer for publication and went to SUNY Buffalo with support from Robert Creeley, Charles Bernstein, and Susan Howe, "and with the financial support (meager as it was) that working within an institution offered."[1] In 1993, after eight years and 12 issues, he left o•blék, which soon folded.

Gizzi has taught at Brown University and The University of California, Santa Cruz. Since 2001, he has been a professor in the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. For several years, he was poetry editor at The Nation. He also is on the contributing editorial board to the literary journal Conjunctions. He is the brother of deceased poet Michael Gizzi; his other brother, Tom, is a professional musician.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1994 he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets (selected by John Ashbery[2]). Gizzi has also held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Foundation of French Literature at Royaumont, Un Bureau Sur L’Atlantique, and the Centre International de Poesie Marseille. He has received fellowships from the Howard Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In the spring of 2011, Gizzi held the position of Poet-in-Residence in the English Faculty of the University of Cambridge.


His publications include Periplum (Avec, 1992), Artificial Heart (Burning Deck Press, 1998), Fin Amor (Tougher Disguises, 2002), Some Values of Landscape and Weather (Wesleyan, 2003), The Outernationale (Wesleyan, 2007) and Threshold Songs (Wesleyan, 2011). He is also the author of such chapbooks as Revival (Phylum, 2001), Hours of the Book (Zasterle, 1994) and Music for Films (Paradigm, 1992). His editing projects have included the celebrated ‘little magazine’ o-blek: a journal of language arts (1987–93), and the international literary anthology the Exact Change Yearbook (1995). He edited The House That Jack Built - the Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan, 1998) and My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, both important editions to Spicer's oeuvre which before had consisted primarily of The Collected Books of Jack Spicer, edited by Robin Blaser, (Black Sparrow Press, 1975). My Vocabulary Did This To Me won the 2009 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.


  1. ^ a b c [1] Gizzi, Peter, "Inside / Outside: Poets in the Academy", article in The Modern Review which identifies it as having been delivered when Gizzi was on an "AWP Panel, Chicago, March 2004", Winter 2006, "Volume II / Issue 2", accessed January 28, 2007
  2. ^ Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award

External links[edit]