Stephen Yenser

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Stephen Yenser (born 1941 Wichita, Kansas) is an American poet and literary critic who has published two acclaimed volumes of verse, as well as books on James Merrill, Robert Lowell, and an assortment of contemporary poets. With J.D. McClatchy, he is co-literary executor of the James Merrill estate and co-editor of four volumes of Merrill's work.


Yenser graduated from the University of Wisconsin, studying with James Merrill in 1967 on one of the rare occasions when the poet taught.[1] Merrill dedicated to Yenser his final, posthumous collection, A Scattering of Salts (1995).

Yenser is Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at the University of California, Los Angeles,[2] curating the Hammer Poetry Series at the Hammer Museum.

His work has appeared in Paris Review,[3] Poetry,[4] Southwest Review, Yale Review, "The New Yorker," and many other magazines. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.[5]


  • Appearances in BEST AMERICAN POETRY anthologies 1992, 1995, 2011
  • 1992 Walt Whitman Award. selected by Richard Howard
  • "Discovery"/The Nation Award
  • Fulbright Teaching Fellowships to Greece and France
  • Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in Poetry
  • Pushcart Prize
  • B. F. Connors Prize for Poetry from the Paris Review.
  • Harvey L. Eby Teaching Award at UCLA



  • Blue Guide (University of Chicago Press, 2006)
  • The Fire in All Things (1993),


  • A Boundless Field: American Poetry at Large (University of Michigan Press, 2002)
  • The Consuming Myth: The Work of James Merrill (1987)
  • Circle to Circle: The Poetry of Robert Lowell (1975).



About Yenser's work, the poet Alan Williamson has said, "Stephen Yenser combines two qualities rarely found together: an extraordinary gift for verbal play and a bedrock seriousness about the emotional aims of poetry. Consequently he can do things almost no one else can: a poem reproducing the modulations of music; a poem in a dead poet's style that becomes uniquely his own, through its meditation on intersubjectivity and immortality."[citation needed]


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