Poverman, C(harles) E. 1944-

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POVERMAN, C(harles) E. 1944-


Born 1944. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1966; University of Iowa, M.F.A., 1969.


Agent—Philippa Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc., 65 Bleeker St., New York, NY 10012.


Writer. Yale University, New Haven, CT, visiting lecturer, 1973-75; Connecticut Center for Continuing Education, teacher, 1974-75; University of Arizona, assistant professor, 1977-80, associate professor, 1980-86, professor, 1986—, director, creative writing program, 1993-95.


Connecticut Commission on the Arts Literature Award, 1975; Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction, 1976, for The Black Velvet Girl; National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1979, 1988; Chesterfield screenwriting fellowship at Universal Studios, 1993; University of Arizona College of Humanities Distinguished Innovations in Teaching Award honorable mention, 2002.


The Black Velvet Girl (short stories), University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1976.

Susan, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Solomon's Daughter, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1981.

My Father in Dreams, Scribner (New York, NY), 1988.

Skin: Stories, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 1992.

On the Edge, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 1997.

Contributor of short stories to periodicals. Short fiction has been anthologized in numerous books.


Two novels, Love by Drowning, and Eye of the Tiger.


C. E. Poverman has written several well-received novels but is particularly admired for his short fiction. His first book, the short-story collection The Black Velvet Girl, won the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction and introduced Poverman as a notable contributor to the genre. His novel Solomon's Daughter was also highly praised. It tells the story of a family traumatized by the aftermath of their adult daughter's serious car accident, which leaves her paralyzed. As Washington Post Book World contributor Joyce R. Kornblatt explained, Poverman does not offer spiritual or psychological explanations for the tragedy, or offer any "hip, ironic, pithy voice to offset the suffering of his characters." Instead, Kornblatt wrote, the author suggests that we must confront such events with resignation. "Poverman's book is bleak, fatalistic," the critic observed. "Yet there are moments of redeeming tenderness."

Poverman's next novel, My Father in Dreams, is considered among his "most artistically successful and ambitious work," noted Victoria Nelson, in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Yet, she stated, reviewers "overlooked its ironic honesty and deliberately understated representation." Poverman's crime thriller, On the Edge, also attracted significant notice. In the New York Times Book Review, Tobin Harshaw described it as a book with "all the elements of a classic noir," including a seedy private investigator with a sexy secretary and a plot involving drug dealing and possible corruption. Tobin enjoyed Poverman's mix of crime-novel staples, and concluded he is "a fine writer with a suitably brisk style and a good ear for courthouse jargon."

Skin, Poverman's second story collection, was hailed as a return to form for the author. Daniel Frick in Studies in Short Fiction described the book as an "excellent" collection that depicts a "gritty and overpoweringly raw" world permeated by an "atmosphere of unarticulated menace." The stories center on characters who struggle to gain self-knowledge and reveal their inner selves to others in a world where clear distinctions are impossible. In "On the Ocean," for example, a gay high school teacher dreads the possibility that his father will discover his sexual identity; in "Africa," a museum curator finds that he no longer knows how to judge the merits of an art exhibit. As Frick observed, Poverman shows that the basic human contact his characters attempt is the thing that can offer redemption from the world's uncertainty.



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 234: American Short Story Writers since World War II, Third Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001, pp. 242-249.


Georgia Review, winter, 1992, Greg Johnson, review of Skin, p. 786.

Library Journal, May 15, 1981, review of Solomon's Daughter, p. 1100; October 1, 1992, Ron Antonucci, review of Skin, p. 121.

Michigan Quarterly Review, summer, 1993, Irving Malin, review of Skin, p. 498.

New York Times, November 1, 1981, Lore Dickstein, review of Solomon's Daughter, p. 34.

New York Times Book Review, July 23, 1989, Deborah A. Hofmann, review of My Father in Dreams, p. 18; May 2, 1993, Amy Boaz, review of Skin, p. 18; October 19, 1997, Tobin Harshaw, review of On the Edge, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, May 1, 1981, review of Solomon's Daughter, p. 56; January 6, 1989, review of My Father in Dreams, p. 88; September 7, 1992, review of Skin, p. 76; March 24, 1997 review of On the Edge, p. 58.

San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 28, 1997, Joan Fiori, review of On the Edge.

Studies in Short Fiction, fall, 1993, Daniel Frick, review of Skin, p. 605.

Washington Post Book World, July 14, 1981, Joyce R. Kornblatt, review of Solomon's Daughter.