Galway Kinnell was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1927. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and took a Master’s Degree in English at the University of Rochester. During his career in poetry that spans five decades and twelve collections, Kinnell has received the Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Frost Medal, and a MacArthur Fellowship. In the nomination for the 2003 National Book Award, the judges called Kinnell “America's preeminent visionary” whose work “greets each new age with rapture and abundance [and] sets him at the table with his mentors: Rilke, Whitman, Frost.”
Kinnell’s volumes of poetry include Strong Is Your Hold (Houghton Mifflin, 2006); A New Selected Poems; Imperfect Thirst; When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone; Selected Poems ; The Past; Mortal Acts, Mortal Words; The Book of Nightmares; Body Rags; Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock; and What a Kingdom It Was . He is the editor of The Essential Whitman. He has also published translations of works by Yves Bonnefoy, Yvan Goll, and François Villon, and Rainer Maria Rilke.
He is renowned as an especially sensuous poet and moving reader. By giving public readings since 1960, Kinnell has been influential in making the poetry reading a part of our cultural life. His varied career has taken him to Iran as a teacher and journalist and to Louisiana as a fieldworker for the Congress of Racial Equality.
Adrian Frazier, from the Cuirt International Festival of Literature in Ireland, noted, “[In Galway Kinnell's books], you could find how to greet the birth of your first child; what it was like to father young ones and comfort them from night terrors; to experience the death of friends; to find love again in the middle of the journey; to have lived long enough so that looking backward discovers mysterious depths; to recover a true relation to other creatures and to nature and the seasons, as the world is made more and more strange by the apocalyptic, accelerating spread of our own species.”
Galway Kinnell has served as the State Poet of Vermont, and was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University for 25 years. He is currently a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. He lives in Vermont.