May Swenson

May Swenson

About May Swenson

May Swenson (Logan, May 28, 1913 - Bethany Beach, December 4, 1989) was a Swedish American poet, playwright and translator. Anna Thilda May Swenson is considered one of the most important English language poetesses of the 20th century. She published her first volume of poetry, Another Animal, in 1954. Her other works include A Cage of Spines (1958), To Mix with Time: New and Selected Poems (1963), Half Sun Half Sleep (1967), Iconographs (1970), New & Selected Things Taking Place(1978), and In Other Words (1987). Posthumous collections of her poetry include The Love Poems (1991), Nature: Poems Old and New (1994), and May Out West (1996). Most of her late poetry was devoted to children including Poems to Solve (1966) and More Poems to Solve (1968); a collection of essays, The Contemporary Poet as Artist and Critic (1964); and a one-act play titled The Floor, which was produced in New York in the 1960s. As translator, she published Windows and Stones: Selected Poems of Tomas Tranströmer (1972), which received a medal of excellence from the International Poetry Forum.
A graduate of Utah State University, she has taught as a poet-in-residence at Bryn Mawr College, the University of North Carolina, the University of California at Riverside, Purdue University and Utah State University. From 1959 to 1966, she worked as a reader at the New Directions publishing house. She then quit her job to devote herself to writing. She was then chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1980 until her death in 1989. For the past twenty years she has lived in Sea Cliff, a village in Nassau County (New York).
In 1936 she contributed as an editor and ghostwriter to the poetic works of a man she called Plat, becoming his girlfriend, but preferring not to marry him (in the diary she wrote: I would like to have a child with Plat, but I would not marry no man and therefore being myself). Her poems have been published in magazines and newspapers such as: Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, Carleton Miscellany, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Saturday Review, Parnassus and Poetry. Her poem Question appeared in Stephenie Meyer's book The Host. Her papers were also collected at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, and since 1997 a poetry prize has existed in her name at Utah State University. She is buried in the Logan City Cemetery.

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