Jorie Graham, UI Graduate 78MFA (Writers' Workshop Faculty)

Prize Work: The Dream of the Unified Field; Pulitzer Prize: 1996 Poetry

Jorie Graham (born 1950) is an American poet.

Jorie GrahamAuthor Biography - Jorie Graham, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor, was born in 1950 and raised in Rome, Italy. As a teenager she helped out on the sets of Antonioni films, which inspired her interest in the medium of film. She went to French schools and to the Sorbonne, but was expelled for taking part in student protests. She transferred to New York University, where she studied film with Haig Manoogian and Martin Scorsese. It was at NYU that her passion for poetry was sparked after walking past a classroom taught by M. L. Rosenthal. The teacher was reciting a snippet of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T. S. Eliot: “I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. / I do not think they will sing to me.” Graham was struck by how much the words moved her and since then, she has immersed herself in the writing and reading of poems.

With her nine collections of poetry, Jorie Graham has invented a new poetic language—at once lyrical and analytical, sensuous and philosophical, shifting between acceleration and breaking. “[She] stands among a small group of poets (Dickinson, Hopkins, Moore),” wrote The Nation, “whose styles are so personal that the poems seem to have no author at all: they exist as self-made things.” Rejecting the conventional lyric, Graham creates poems that range across the page and across human experiences, dramas of faith, perception, and emotion. Her poems press language to the breaking point, but out of the ruins emerges a startling new world. As she puts it: “the infinite variety of having once been, / of being, of coming to life, right there in the thin air.” Graham received the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for her collection, The Dream of the Unified Field.

Her many other honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and grants from numerous foundations. She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Learn More About Graham's Prize Winning Work

The Dream of the Unified Field by Jorie Graham

Book Description
The 1996 Pulitzer winner in poetry and a major collection, Jorie Graham's The Dream of the United Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 spans twenty years of writing and includes generous selections from her first five books: Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, The End of Beauty, Region of Unlikeness,and Materialism.

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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Editorial Reviews
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An Interview with Jorie Graham

In an interview in April 1996, from the PBS website, Jorie Graham answers some questions about winning the Pulitzer Prize and how poetry came into her life. (Audio version available.)
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Bibliography - Jorie Graham


* Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (1980)
* Erosion (1983)
* The End of Beauty (1987)
* Region of Unlikeness (1991)
* Materialism (1993)
* The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 (1995)
* The Errancy (1997)
* Photographs and Poems (1998; with Jeanette Montgomery Barron)
* Swarm (2000)
* Never (2002)
* Overlord (2005)

Edited Anthologies

* The Best American Poetry 1990 (1990)
* Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language (1997)

External links