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Nathaniel Tarn (born 1928 in Paris) is an American poet, essayist, translator and anthropologist.


Nathaniel Tarn was born in Paris, 1928, lived there until age 7, then in Belgium (Lycée d’Anvers) until age 11. He was educated at Clifton College, U.K. then, as a scholar of King’s College, at Cambridge where he studied History and English. He returned to Paris and, after some journalism and radio work, discovered anthropology at the Musée de l’Homme, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes and the Collège de France. A Fulbright a grant took him to Yale and the University of Chicago where Robert Redfield sent him to Guatemala for his doctoral fieldwork (1951-2). He completed this work as a graduate student at the London School of Economics (1953-8).


In 1958, a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation administered by the Royal Institute of International Affairs sent him to Burma for 18 months after which he became Lecturer in South East Asian Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1960-1967).

Tarn published his first volume of poetry "Old Savage/Young City" with Jonathan Cape, London in 1964; a translation of Pablo Neruda’s “The Heights of Macchu Picchu” in 1968 and began building a new poetry program at Cape. He left anthropology in 1967. From 1967-9, he joined Cape as General Editor of the international series Cape Editions and as a Founding Director of the Cape-Goliard Press, specializing in contemporary American Poetry with emphasis on Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Louis Zukofsky and their peers and successors. He brought a great many French, other European and Latin American titles to Cape and made many visits to the U.S. as a Cape Editor. He taught English at S.U.N.Y. Buffalo in the summer of 1969.

In 1970, with a principal interest in the American literary scene, he immigrated to the U.S. as Visiting Professor of Romance Languages, Princeton University, and eventually became a citizen. Later he moved to Rutgers. Since then he has taught English and American Literature, Epic Poetry, Folklore etc. etc. at inter alia the Universities of Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Manchuria (PRC), reading and lecturing all over he world: Paris, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Berlin, Rome, Messina, Prague, Budapest, Sydney, Melbourne, etc. etc. He has set foot in every state of the U.S., with especially long study in Alaska. Extensive travels over the years in all seven continents has informed his poetry from the start.

As poet, literary & cultural critic (two volumes: “Views from the Weaving Mountain” and “The Embattled Lyric”), translator (he was the first to render Victor Segalen’s “Stèles” into English, continued work on Neruda, Latin American and French poets) and editor (with many magazines), Tarn has published some thirty books and booklets in his various disciplines. He has been translated into some ten foreign languages. His poetry possesses a remarkable range of voice and reference, fusing archaic myth with contemporary concerns and moving from complex hieratic visions to the deeply personal.

In 1985, he took early retirement as Professor Emeritus of Poetry, Comparative Literature & Anthropology from Rutgers University and has since lived some twenty minutes N.W of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His interests range from bird watching, gardening, classical music, opera & ballet, and much varied collecting, all the way over to aviation and world history.


  • Old Savage/Young City. London, Cape, 1964; New York, Random House, 1966
  • Penguin Modern Poets. London, Penguin Books, 1966
  • Where Babylon Ends. London, Cape Goliard Press, and New York, Grossman, 1968.
  • The Beautiful Contradictions. London, Cape Goliard Press, 1969; New York, Random House, 1970.
  • October: A Sequence of Ten Poems Followed by Requiem Pro Duabus Filiis Israel. London, Trigram Press, 1969.
  • The Silence. Milan, M'Arte, 1970.
  • A Nowhere for Vallejo: Choices, October. New York, Random House, 1971; London, Cape, 1972.
  • The Persephones. Santa Barbara, California, Tree, 1974.
  • Lyrics for the Bride of God. New York, New Directions, and London, Cape, 1975.
  • The House of Leaves. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1976.
  • From Alashka: The Ground of Our Great Admiration of Nature. With Janet Rodney. London, Permanent Press, 1977 .
  • The Microcosm. Milwaukee, Membrane Press. 1977.
  • Birdscapes, with Seaside. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1978.
  • The Forest. With Janet Rodney. Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, Perishable Press, 1978.
  • Atitlan / Alashka: New and Selected Poems, the *Alashka* with Janet Rodney. Boulder, Colorado, Brillig Works Press, 1979.
  • Weekends in Mexico. London, Oxus Press, 1982.
  • The Desert Mothers. Grenada, Mississippi, Salt Works Press, 1984.
  • At the Western Gates. Santa Fe, Tooth of Time Press, 1985.
  • Palenque: Selected Poems 1972-1984. London, Oasis/Shearsman Press, 1986.
  • Seeing America First. Minneapolis, Coffee House Press, 1989.
  • The Mothers of Matagalpa. London, Oasis Press, 1989.
  • Drafts For: The Army Has Announced That From Now On Body Bags Will Be Known As "Human Remains Pouches" . Parkdale, OR, Trout Creek Press, 1992.
  • Flying the Body. Los Angeles, Arundel Press, 1993
  • A Multitude of One: The Poems of Natasha Tarn. (N.T. Editor). New York, Grenfell Press, 1994.
  • I Think This May Be Eden, a CD with music by Billy Panda. Nashville & Small Press Distributors, 1997.
  • The Architextures: 1988-1994. Tucson, Chax Press, 2000.
  • Three Letters from the City: the St. Petersburg Poems. Santa Fe, The Weaselsleeves Press and St. Petersburg, Borey Art Center, 2001.
  • Selected Poems: 1950-2000. Middletown, Wesleyan University Press, 2002.
  • Recollections of Being. Cambridge and Sydney, Salt Publishing, 2004.
  • Avia: A Poem of International Air Combat, 1939-1945. Exeter, Shearsman Books, 2008.
  • Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers. New York, New Directions, 2008.


  • Stelae, by Victor Segalen, Santa Barbara, Unicorn Press, 1963 .
  • The Heights of Macchu Picchu, by Pablo Neruda. London, Cape, 1966.
  • Con Cuba: An Anthology of Cuban Poetry of the Last Sixty Years. London, Cape Goliard Press, 1969.
  • Selected Poems: A Bilingual Edition, by Pablo Neruda. London, Cape, 1970.
  • Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems. London, Penguin Books, 1975 .


  • Views from the Weaving Mountain; Selected Essays in Poetics & Anthropology. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1991.
  • Scandals in the House of Birds: Priests & Shamans in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, Guatemala, New York, Marsilio Publishers, 1997.
  • The Embattled Lyric; Essays & Conversations in Poetics & Anthropology, with a biographical & bibliographical essay by, and a conversation with, Shamoon Zamir. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2007.


  • Roberto Sanesi in Le Belle Contradizzioni, Milan, Munt Press, 1973
  • "Nathaniel Tarn Symposium" in Boundary 2 (Binghamton, NY.), Fall 1975
  • "The House of Leaves" by A. Kingsley Weatherhead, in Credences 4 (Kent, OH.), 1977
  • Ted Enslin and Rochelle Ratner, in American Book Review 2 (New York, NY), 5, 1980
  • Translating Neruda by John Felstiner, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1980
  • "America as Desired: Nathaniel Tarn's Poetry of the Outsider as Insider" by Doris Sommer, in American Poetry I (Albuquerque, NM. ), 4, 1984
  • "II Mito come Metalinguaggio nella Poesia de Nathaniel Tarn" by Fedora Giordano, in Letteratura d'America (Rome), 5(22), 1984.
  • George Economou, in Sulfur (Ypsilanti, MI.), 14, 1985.
  • Gene Frumkin, in Artspace (Albuquerque. NM.), 10(l), 1985.
  • Lee Bartlett, in Talking Poetry, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1987
  • "The Sun Is But a Morning Star" by Lee Bartlett, in Studies in West Coast Poetry and Poetics, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1989.
  • “An Aviary of Tarns” by Eliot Weinberger, in Written Reaction, New York, Marsilio Publishing, 1996
  • Shamoon Zamir: "Bringing the World to Little England: Cape Editions, Cape Goliard and Poetry in the Sixties. An Interview with Nathaniel Tarn. With an afterword by Tom Raworth," in E.S. Shaffer, ed., Comparative Criticism, vol 19: "Literary Devolution." Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp.263-286, 1997.
  • Shamoon Zamir: "On Anthropology & Poetry: an Interview with Nathaniel Tarn," Boxkite, no.1, Sydney, Australia, 1998.
  • Shamoon Zamir: "Scandals in the House of Anthropology: notes towards a reading of Nathaniel Tarn" in Cross Cultural Poetics, no.5, (Minneapolis, MN.), 1999, pp.99-122.
  • Brenda Hillman: Review of “Selected Poems” in Jacket magazine #28, (internet) Sydney, Australia, 1999.
  • Joseph Donahue: Review of “The Architextures” First Intensity #16, 2001 (Lawrence, KS).
  • Peter O’Leary: Review of “The Architectures” in XCP Cross Cultural Poetics #12, 2003 (Minneapolis, MN).
  • Martin Anderson: Review of “Recollections of Being” in Jacket magazine #36, (internet) Sydney, Australia, 2008.
  • Daniel Bouchard: Conversation with NT, in Zoland Poetry #3, 2009 (Hanover, NH): Steerforth Press, 2009.
  • Isobel Armstrong: Review of “Avia” in Tears in the Fence #50, Blanford Forum, Dorset, UK, 2009.
  • Joseph Donahue: review of “Ins & Outs of the Forest Rivers” in “A Nathaniel Tarn Tribute”: Jacket magazine #39, (internet) Sydney, Australia, 2010.
  • Richard Deming: Essay on “The Embattled Lyric” & “Selected Poems” in “A Nathaniel Tarn Tribute”: Jacket magazine #39 (internet) Sydney, Australia, 2010.
  • Lisa Raphals: Reading NT’s “House of Leaves” in “A Nathaniel Tarn Tribute”: Jacket #39 (internet) Sydney, Australia, 2010.


  • Nathaniel Tarn entry: Stanford University Libraries, Stanford California [1]
  • Nathaniel Tarn [2]
  • “Review: Scandals in the House of Birds”. Zamir Shamoon (1998). [3]
  • “Flight from ‘The Ten Thousand Things’ ”. Martin Anderson (2008). [4]
  • The Embattled Lyric: Essays and Conversations in Poetics and Anthropology. [5]
  • Nathaniel Tarn: Avia. [6]
  • ‘Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers’ (Review). Joseph Donahue (2009). [7]
  • A Tarn poem [8]
  • Lee Bartlett: Nathaniel Tarn: a Descriptive Bibliography. Jefferson, NC and London, McFarland, 1987. [9]
  • Zamir, Shamoon(ed.) A Multitude of One: Celebrating Nathaniel Tarn [10]
  • New Directions Publishing Corp., publisher of Tarn’s “Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers [11]
  • Nathaniel Tarn papers, ca.1939-2005 [12] call numberM1132.) are housed in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives [13] at Stanford University Libraries.

Category:1928 births Category:Living people Category:Alumni of the University of Cambridge Category:American poets Category:American people of French descent Category:American people of Romanian descent Category:American people of British descent Category:University of Chicago alumni Category:University of Paris alumni