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Charles North

Poet, Teacher
Born Brooklyn, NY, 1941
Lives in New York, NY

As helpful as the grant has been in specific ways, its most significant—and, I hope, lasting—impact has been on my writing life in general… The grant has been a great encouragement, one of the things that have kept me writing during the past year… I know that the three new books I have in prospect—a new book of shorter poems, a book of collected poems, and an expanded edition of my essay collection—all seem more within reach that they did a year or so ago...

Charles North, December 28, 2008

Biography

Charles North is a poet and teacher. He traces his interest in poetry to a workshop given by Kenneth Koch at The New School. His work is also influenced by philosophy.

In 1972, North self-published Lineups, a series of poems in the form of baseball lineups, and has since published more than ten books of poetry. In addition to poetry, prior to his 2008 Grants to Artists award, North published a collection of essays on poets, artists, and critics, No Other Way (1998), and collaborative works with artists and other poets, among them Gemini (1981) with Tony Towle and Tulips (2004) with Trevor Winkfield. With James Schuyler he edited Broadway: A Poets and Painters Anthology (1979) and Broadway 2 (1989). His poems have appeared in more than thirty anthologies, including Post-Modern Poetry in America (1994), From the Other Side of the Century (1994), Best American Poetry (1995, 2002), and New York Poets II (2006).

North's 2008 FCA grant supported Complete Lineups (2009), a collection of his lineup poems, which covers a range of human experiences that are metaphorically organized by batting order and field position. Complete Lineups also includes artwork by Paula North. He has since authored What It Is Like: New and Selected Poems (2011), The Nearness of the Way You Look Tonight (2001), and Translation (2014), with Paula North.

North has read his poems at numerous venues including The Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress, The Sackler Museum at Harvard, the National Arts Club, Columbia University, Brown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, New York University, Bard College, Cue Art Foundation, Bowery Poetry Club, The Poetry Project, and The New School Poetry Forum.

Prior to his 2008 FCA Grant, North received a Poets Foundation award (1972), two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1980, 2001), four Fund For Poetry Awards (1987, 1989, 1998, 2005), and a Kenan Award for Teaching Excellence from Pace University (2008). The Nearness of the Way You Look Tonight (2001) was one of five finalists for the inaugural Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award.

North received a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Tufts University in 1962 and an M.A. in English and American Literature from Columbia University in 1964. He is Poet-in-Residence at Pace University in New York City, where he has held various Faculty and Resident positions since 1967.

Artist Statement

Most of the time, at least when I think I'm writing well, I don't quite know what I'm after: I hope to surprise myself. Naturally, it doesn't always work, nor does the surprise, even when it comes, guarantee the success of what's producing it. One thing that's always inspired me is seeing what I can get away with, like making baseball lineups into poems or making “lyrical" poems out of material and language that have no business being lyrical. I think my poetry these days is “messier" than it used to be, which I hope is a good thing, some sort of departure. The long poems that begin and end the new book, Cadenza, are, in this sense, more cadenza-like, freer, with more tone-changing, etc. I do a lot of scribbling and a fair amount of putting away and later—sometimes much later—re-locating.

December 2007