Terese Svoboda

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Svoboda at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival

Terese Svoboda is an American poet, novelist, memoirist, short story writer, librettist, translator, biographer, critic and videomaker.

Early life and education[edit]

Svoboda was raised in Nebraska. She attended local schools, then matriculated at Manhattanville College, the University of Nebraska, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Oxford University, Stanford University, the University of Colorado, and the University of British Columbia, where she graduated with a B.F.A. in studio art and creative writing. Columbia University awarded her an M.F.A.


Svoboda is the author of five collections of poetry, five novels, a novella and stories, a memoir and a book of translation.[1] The opera Wet, for which she wrote the libretto, premiered at RedCat at L.A. Disney Hall in 2005.[2] Her fourteen works in video have won numerous awards and are distributed worldwide.[3][4] In writing about her work, reviewers have noted her frequent use of humor to address dire subjects,[5] her interest in fabulism,[6] and her lyrical use of language, especially as a poet writing prose.[7][8] An ardent unconventional feminist, she often writes about women in the Midwest in a way that has been termed “exotic, sophisticated, and heartbreaking.”[9] Her travels for the Smithsonian's Anthropology Film Archive to the South Pacific and the South Sudan provide additional settings. Postwar Japan is the location for her memoir about executions of U.S. servicemen by U.S. authorities. Two books are forthcoming in 2015: Radical Poet Lola Ridge (Schaffner Press, 2015), and When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Poems Selected and New (Anhinga Press, 2015). She is presently writing a novel that concerns an Irish girl who emigrates to America in the 1860s when the Irish were known as "white niggers.”[10]


Svoboda is currently[when?] teaching fiction at the Center for Fiction in New York City. She has held visiting teaching appointments at Sarah Lawrence College, The New School, Bennington College, the University of Miami, the University of Tampa, Fordham, Fairleigh Dickinson, Wichita State, Williams College, San Francisco State College, the College of William and Mary, Stonybook/Southampton College, and Columbia University's School of the Arts. Twice she has been the Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii, and once the McGee Professor at Davidson College. She has also taught for the Summer Literary Seminars Program in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Kwani? LitFest in Kenya, and for the State Department and the University of Iowa's International Writing Program in Kenya. She has lectured at the Norman Mailer's Writers Colony, U. of Wellington (Victoria) Masters program in New Zealand, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

South Sudan[edit]

After translating the songs of the Nuer people of the South Sudan on a PEN/Columbia Fellowship, she founded a scholarship for Nuer high school students in Nebraska.[11] She was consulting producer for "The Quilted Conscience," a PBS documentary on South Sudanese girls learning to quilt with Nebraskan women.[12]

Selected awards[edit]

  • 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction
  • 2013 Money for Women Barbara Deming Memorial Fund
  • 2008 Best of Japan 2008 in the Japan Times for Black Glasses Like Clark Kent
  • 2007 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize
  • 2005 Appleman Foundation for WET libretto
  • 2003 Pushcart Prize for an essay
  • 2000 Margaret Sanger: A Public Nuisance, co-director/writer of a video selected by The Getty as one of the best two experimental biographies of the decade[13]
  • 1998, 1993 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship
  • 1998 Walter E. Dakin Fellow in fiction, Sewanee Writing Conference
  • 1994 Bobst Prize and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award
  • 1990 Iowa Poetry Prize
  • 1990 Appleman Foundation grant for video
  • 1990 New York State Council for the Arts grant for video
  • 1988 Jerome Foundation Fellow
  • 1985 Emily Dickinson Award, Poetry Society of America
  • 1987 Cecil Hemley Award, Poetry Society of America
  • 1983 Creative Artist Public Service fellow
  • 1978 National Endowment for the Humanities grant in translation
  • 1974 PEN/Columbia Translation Fellow
  • 1973 Hannah del Vecchio Award in Playwriting


The highlights of Svoboda's video work include exhibition in Exchange and Evolution as part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time exhibition at RedCat,[14] Ars Electronica, PBS, MoMA, WNYC, L.A.C.E., Lifestyle TV, Berlin Videofest, Art Institute of Chicago, CalArts, AFI, Long Beach Museum of Art, New American Makers, Athens Film Festival, Ohio Film Festival, American Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival (Director's Choice), L.A. Freewaves, Pacific Film Archives, Columbus Film Festival, and Worldwide Video Festival. She also co-curated "Between Word and Image" for the Museum of Modern Art and Poets House, an exhibition that traveled to Banff and the Northwest Film Center.

Personal life[edit]

Svoboda is married to the high-tech inventor Stephen Medaris Bull, and she is the mother of three children. They live in New York City.[citation needed]


  • All Aberration (poetry)
  • Laughing Africa Iowa Prize in Poetry
  • Mere Mortals (poetry)
  • Treason (poetry)
  • Weapons Grade (poetry)
  • Cleaned the Crocodile's Teeth (translation)
  • Black Glasses Like Clark Kent (memoir) Graywolf Press Nonfiction Price
  • Cannibal (novel) Bobst Prize and the Great Lakes Colleges Association First Fiction Prize
  • A Drink Called Paradise (novel)
  • Trailer Girl and Other Stories
  • Tin God (novel) John Gardner Fiction book Award Finalist
  • Pirate Talk or Mermalade (novel)
  • Bohemian Girl (novel) Booklist Ten Best Westerns 2012
  • Dogs Are Not Cats (poetry)
  • When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems
  • Professor Harriman's Steam Air-Ship (poetry)
  • Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet
  • Great American Desert (stories)


  • O. Henry Award
  • Best of the Web
  • Writing Poems
  • Pushcart Prize
  • Logan House Anthology of 21st Century American Poetry
  • The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women
  • Growing Ideas
  • The Beacon Best
  • An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism


  1. ^ "Terese Svoboda". Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  2. ^ "Anne Lebaron and Terese Svoboda: Wet". REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Calarts Theater). redcat.org. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  3. ^ "Terese Svoboda". Experimental Television Center. experimentaltvcenter.org. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  4. ^ "Terese Svoboda".
  5. ^ "Pirate Talk or Mermalade".
  6. ^ "Tin God".
  7. ^ "A Drink Called Paradise".
  8. ^ "Weapons Grade".
  9. ^ "An interview with Ladette Randolph". www.thenervousbreakdown.com. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Interview with author".
  11. ^ "Nuer scholarship". www.theindependent.com.
  12. ^ "Nuer scholarship". nebraskapress.typepad.com.
  13. ^ "Margaret Sanger". www.wmm.com.
  14. ^ "RedCat". www.redcat.org.

External links[edit]