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Jorie Graham Biography

(1951– ), Erosion, symbolistes, Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, The End of Beauty, Region of Unlikeness

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellen Gilchrist Biography to Grain

American poet, born in Italy, educated at the Sorbonne, New York University, and the University of Iowa. Graham's complex linguistic and cultural background (she was born of American parents, attended a French lycée in Rome, and is fluent in English, French, and Italian) provides much of the material for her intellectual, frequently erudite, verse. Graham's mother, the painter and sculptor Beverly Pepper, exposed her daughter at a young age to the cultural heritage of Italy, and many of Graham's poems, notably ‘At Luca Signorelli's Resurrection of the Body’ from her second volume of verse, Erosion (1983), reflect her preoccupations with the analogous expressive powers of poetic language and the visual arts. Graham herself speaks of the influence of the French symbolistes, particularly Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé, and of the American poet Elizabeth Bishop, though her metrics recall those of William Carlos Williams while her subject matter has much in common with that of Wallace Stevens. Her other volumes of verse are Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (1980), The End of Beauty (1987), Region of Unlikeness (1991), and Materialism: Poems (1993); she has also published poetry in the New Yorker magazine. Graham undertook cinema studies at New York University (where she worked with the film director Martin Scorsese). Her teaching career has included posts at California State University, Columbia University, and Iowa University.

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