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Swensen, Cole 1955-

SWENSEN, Cole 1955-

PERSONAL: Born October 22, 1955, in San Francisco, CA. Education: San Francisco State University, B.A., 1980, M.A., 1983; University of California, A.B.D., 1992.

ADDRESSES: Office—P.O. Box 927, Fairfax, CA 94978.

CAREER: Poet. University of Denver, Denver, CO, teacher, 1996—. Worked variously as a translator, editor, copywriter, and teacher.

MEMBER: Marin Poetry Centre (president 1985-87).

AWARDS, HONORS: Marin Arts Council creative advancement grant, 1987; National Poetry Series award, 1987, for New Math; Shifting Foundation grant, 1989; New American Poetry Series award, 1995, for Noon; Iowa Poetry Prize, 1998, and San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award, 1999, both for Try.



It's Alive She Says, Floating Island Press (Point Reyes Station, CA), 1984.

New Math, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.

Park, Floating Island Publications (Point Reyes Station, CA), 1991.

Numen, Burning Deck Press (Providence, RI), 1995.

Noon, Sun and Moon Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1997.

Try, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1999.

Oh, Apogee Press (Berkeley, CA), 2000.

Such Rich Hour, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2001.


Pierre Alferi, Natural Gaits, Sun and Moon Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1995.

Oliver Cadiot, Art Poetic, Green Integer (Los Angeles, CA), 1999.

Jean Frèmon, Island of the Dead, Green Integer (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.

Pascale Monnier, Bayart, Duration Press (New York, NY), 2002.


Contributor to periodicals, including Chicago Review, American Poetry Review, Boston Book Review, Common Knowledge, Conjunctions, Grand Street, New American Writing, and Zzyzzyva.

SIDELIGHTS: Poet Cole Swensen was born and raised near San Francisco, and has since lived in Santa Cruz, California, London, England, Paris, France, and Denver, Colorado, working as a translator, editor, copywriter, and teacher. She began teaching at an alternative high school while in her early twenties and has since taught in community colleges and universities. She began teaching full-time at the University of Denver in 1996 and is the author of several poetry collections.

In the American Book Review, Fred Muratori described Swensen's poetry in New Math as "a collection of deft, sleight-of-hand lyrics that teased images or ideas through unpredictably widening or shifting chains of association." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Swensen's lyrics in New Math are "elusive, obscure, nearly hallucinatory." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly called Swensen's collection Such Rich Hour, "a very long, fragment-strewn, philosophically-minded sequence."

On the Denver University Web site, Swensen described her teaching philosophy: "I stress writing as thinking—as thinking that creates new territory." She urges her students to create new material and revise it over and over, in the context of a workshop, so that they can hone their own critical abilities and will be able to see what could be improved in their work, and how to improve it. "Education is a process of expansion—expanding strategies as writers, expanding knowledge as scholars, expanding concerns as citizens. Every class should be a community in which students safely and certainly expand their worlds."



American Book Review, February, 1996, Fred Muratori, The Cadence of Disclosure, p. 21.

American Poet, spring, 2002, review of Such Rich Hour, p. 61.

Library Journal, June 1, 1988, Louis McKee, review of New Math, p. 116.

Literary Review, summer, 2001, Burton Raffel, review of Try, p. 791.

Publishers Weekly, April 1, 1988, review of New Math, p. 80; February 22, 1999, review of Try, p. 89; July 9, 2001, review of Such Rich Hour, p. 63.


Denver University Web site, (July 25, 2002).*

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