Elaine Sexton Bio & Blurbs

Prospect/Refuge, Fall 2015


Elaine Sexton is the author of twoprevious collections, Sleuth and Causeway. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University, serves as visual arts editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.



“Elaine Sexton knows how to raise autobiography to the level of true poetry, and this knack has much to do with her use of surprise. Just when we think we know where one of her poems is going, we step into air.” —Billy Collins


“Elaine Sexton’s poetry is furious and unstoppable—and it is all the more so because it insinuates itself into our consciousness with such love and exquisite tenderness. Underneath that tenderness, though, is a relentless will to forego the inessential, to take the measure of the real, to uncover the secret and silent engines of our human grief.” —Vijay Seshadri


“The word ‘you’ can be a richly unstable referent in poetry, so when Elaine Sexton titles the center poem of her new book ‘About You,’ the ‘you’ is ‘always an approximation,’ ‘cross-cultural, cross-gendered, ambi-everything.’ Her smart manifesto, ‘Poetry and Smoke,’ proclaims ‘I’m for a poetry that makes order from disorder. And sometimes takes it back.’ What she takes it back to, aside from the faceted self, is a kind of nakedness where the self is freed from the clichés of gender and beauty and a truer and more vulnerable human comes forward. Prospect/Refuge is an insightful, well-crafted book and puts Elaine Sexton among the best poets writing now. — Roger Mitchell


“In her third, most agile collection, Sexton not only “makes order of disorder and sometimes takes it back,” but also divulges a private periodic table that makes the reader privy to hidden elements of being—read it and delight!”

Jessica Greenbaum