One of the award-winning American poets who made substantial contributions to the history of literature is Peter Gizzi. In this short biography of the talented poet and editor, you will learn more about his background, literary works, and achievements.
Peter Gizzi was born on August 7, 1959 in the small town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts as the youngest child to the Gizzy family. After finishing high school, he didn’t immediately enroll in a university, instead, he worked in a factory of resin tubes and a treatment center for adolescents who were experiencing emotional disturbances. He worked overnight at the residential treatment center, and read poems by various authors including:
- George Oppen
- Hilda Doolittle (also known as H.D.)
- Wallace Stevens
- Federico Garcia Lorca
- Arthur Rimbaud
- William Carlos Williams
- Charles Baudelaire
Peter Gizzi got his undergraduate degree from New York University in 1986, and pursued higher education at Brown University and State University of New York (Buffalo, New York). He earned his Master of Fine Arts from Brown University in 1991, and got his PhD from the State University of New York in 1997.
As one of the most remarkable lyrical and narrative poets of his time, Peter Gizzi was able to produce a lot of great literary pieces such as:
- Periplum (1992)
- Artificial Heart (1998)
- Fin Amor (2002)
- Some Values of Landscape and Weather (2003)
- The Outernationale (2007)
- Threshold Songs (2011)
Many of his works were chosen to be included in several anthologies and were even translated into different languages. The translation of some of his writings into French, Dutch, Swedish, and Bengali, made him become more appreciated in various parts of the world. Aside from the common masses, Peter Gizzi was also admired by the literary community and critics. He was regarded as a visionary and an innovative poet who reinvented lyrical poetry.
Aside from being a poet, Peter Gizzi worked as an editor and as a professor in different universities. Among his editing works were:
- o·blēk: a journal of language arts (1987-1993) – a magazine he founded together with Connell McGrath in 1987.
- The Exact Change Yearbook (1995) – a collection of avant-garde poetry and prose
- The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (1998)
- My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (2008)
- The Nation (Poetry Editor; 2007-2011) – the oldest weekly magazine in the United States
He became a member of the faculty at Brown University from 1993-1994, and became a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1995-2001. Aside from those mentioned, he also taught at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics Summer Program (Naropa University; 1998 and 2007), University of New Orleans Summer Program (Madrid, Spain; 2004), The Writer’s Workshop (University of Iowa; 2008), and at Cambridge University (2011). From 2001 to date, Peter Gizzi has been a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for the MFA Program for Poets and Writers.
Achievements and Awards
Throughout his career, Peter Gizzi was able to receive a lot of literary awards and held residence at The MacDowell Colony, Un Bureau Sur L’Atlantique, Foundation of French Literature, and Centre International de Poesie Marseille.
In 1994, he was recognized by the Academy of American Poets, and was given the Lavan Younger Poet Award. In addition to that, he was also able to receive fellowship grants from:
- The Fund for Poetry (1993)
- The Rex Foundation (1993)
- Howard Foundation (1998)
- The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (1999)
- The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2005)
His latest achievement was being named the 2010-2011 Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellow in Poetry, or the Poet-in-Residence of the English Department, at the University of Cambridge. With his exemplary works, it is unsurprising that until now, he is still recognized all over the world for his contributions in the field of literature.