Heather McHugh has been a significant voice in American literary life for almost four decades. She has published eight books of poetry and has received numerous awards and critical recognition, including several Pushcart Prizes. Her first collection of poems, Dangers: Poems, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1977 and was awarded the New Poetry Series Publication Award. Her other collections of poetry include Upgraded to Serious (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); Eyeshot (Wesleyan University Press, 2004), which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize; The Father of Predicaments (2001); Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993 (1994), a finalist for the National Book Award and named a "Notable Book of the Year" by the New York Times Book Review; Shades (1988); To the Quick (1987); and A World of Difference (Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993, also won the Bingham Poetry Prize of the Boston Book Review and the Pollack-Harvard Review Prize.
She is also the author of a collection of literary essays titled Broken English: Poetry and Partiality (1993), and four books of translation: Glottal Stop: Poems of Paul Celan (with Nikolai Popov, 2000), winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize; Cyclops (1999); Because the Sea is Black: Poems of Blaga Dimitrova (with Niko Boris, 1989); and D'après tout: Poems by Jean Follain (1981). McHugh also edited the anthology New Voices: University and College Prizes (Academy of American Poets, 1999), and served as the 2007 guest editor for the Best American Poetry series.
Her poems resist contemporary identity politics. She also rejects categorization as a confessional poet, although she studied with Robert Lowell during the time when that described his work. Her honors include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Award, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and, in 2006, one of the first United States Artists awards. From 1999 to 2006 she served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and in 2000 was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, she was awarded the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for her work.
For over 20 years, she has served as a visiting faculty member in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and since 1984 as Milliman Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington in Seattle. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a M.A. in English Literature from the University of Denver.
Click here to read Heather's poem "Etymological Dirge"
Click here to read and listen to Heather's poem "What He Thought"
Click here to watch an animated version of Heather's poem "Space Bar"
Click here to watch a reading by Heather