Phillip Lopate, Write, Poet, Film Critic
"Lopate is a fantastic writer—humane, wry, and always astonishingly willing to take on the ineffable, attuned to the complexities of symbiotic relationships we only intuited before his dazzling collage was created." —Ann Beattie
"Phillip Lopate is one of our few essential essayists. He registers with accuracy and tact the voice of a man of deep human impulse living in a civilization on the wane. His fearlessness is tonic, his candor is straight gin." —Sven Birkerts
Widely considered one of the foremost American essayists and a central figure in the recent revival of interest in memoir writing, Phillip Lopate is best known for his supple and surprising essays, which have been collected most recently in Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003). Lopate is the author of three essay collections, Bachelorhood (Little, Brown & Co., 1981), Against Joie de Vivre (Simon & Schuster, 1989), and Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996). He has also published two novels, Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987); two poetry collections, The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972) and The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976); and a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975). He has also edited the anthologies The Art of the Personal Essay, Writing New York (The Library of America, 1998), Journal of a Living Experiment (Teachers & Writers Press, 1979), and a series collecting the best essays of the year, The Anchor Essay Annual (Anchor, 1997-9). Lopate’s work has been included in The Best American Essays and The Pushcart Prize series. His most recent book of nonfiction prose is the urbanistic meditation Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan, of which Conde-Nast Traveler wrote, “The celebrated essayist takes a tour of the city’s ever-changing perimeter, sharing his knowledge of New York’s history, mythology, and plans for the future. Poring over his informed, readable prose is like taking a stroll with a favorite professor: he is opinionated, casual, and erudite in equal measure.”
Also a film critic, Lopate has written about movies for The New York Times, Vogue, Esquire, Film Comment, Film Quarterly, Cinemabook, Tikkun, American Film, and the anthology The Movie That Changed My Life, among others. A volume of his selected movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically, was published by Doubleday-Anchor in 1998. His most recent anthology is American Movie Criticism: From the Silent Era to the Present (The Library of America, 2006). His writings about architecture and urbanism have appeared in Metropolis, The New York Times, Double Take, Preservation, Cite and 7 Days, where he wrote a bimonthly architectural column. He was also a recipient of a Revson Fellowship in Urban Studies at Columbia, and served as a committee-member for the Municipal Art Society and as a consultant for Ric Burns' PBS documentary on the history of New York City. He has written on travel for the New York Times Sophisticated Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, European Travel and Life, Sidestreets of the World, and American Airlines Magazine.
Lopate’s many awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He also received a Christopher medal for Being With Children, the Texas Institute of Letters award for best non-fiction book of the year (Bachelorhood), and was a finalist for the PEN Diamondston-Spielvogel Award for best essay book of the year (Portrait of My Body). His anthology Writing New York received an honorable mention from the Municipal Art Society's Brendan Gill Award, and a citation from the New York Society Library.
Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, and received a bachelor's degree at Columbia in 1964, and a doctorate at Union Graduate School in 1979. He currently holds the Adams Chair at Hofstra University, where he is a Professor of English.
Photo: courtesy of Blue Flower Arts