Alfred Corn

b. 1943
Alfred CornRobert Giard
Born in rural Bainbridge, Georgia, Alfred Corn studied French literature at both Emory University, where he earned a BA, and Columbia University, where he earned an MA. He traveled to France on a Fulbright Scholarship and has taught widely across the United States and in Britain. Corn is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, including Tables (2013), Contradictions (2002), and Stake: Selected Poems, 1972–1992 (1999). He composed A Call in the Midst of the Crowd (1978), The Various Light (1980), and Notes from a Child of Paradise (1984) as a trilogy responding to Dante’s Commedia.

Early in his career, Corn says, he aimed to write poetry that sounded like conversation and to find “verbal equivalents for visual realities.” These conversational patterns have evolved into an attention to rhythm and an eye for detail. He often employs strict formal and metrical devices in his personal and social histories.

Corn cites Whitman, Melville, Bishop, Dickinson, James, Pound, and Crane as influences. Reviewing Present (1997) in the Boston Review, poet Thomas M. Disch said, “Happily[,] Corn’s poetry is more than the sum of his rare gifts, for underpinning these is a poetic persona as distinctively affable (though less raffish) as those of Merrill or James Schuyler or (when he is in flâneur mode) Frank O’Hara.”

A frequent reviewer for The New York Times Book Review and The Nation, Corn has also published a novel, Part of His Story (1997); two collections of critical essays, Atlas: Selected Essays 1989-2007 (2008) and The Metamorphoses of Metaphor (1989); The Poem’s Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody (1997, 2008); a book of art criticism, Aaron Rose Photographs (2001); and a translation of Proust’s L’Indifferent (tr. 1992). His poetry has been widely anthologized, including in The Morrow Anthology of Younger Poets (1985), the Norton Anthology of American Literature, and Best American Poetry (1988).

Corn has won the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine, an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center at Bellagio, Italy. He received the Amy Clampitt Residency in 2004.

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Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

LIFE SPAN 1943–

Alfred Corn

Biography

Born in rural Bainbridge, Georgia, Alfred Corn studied French literature at both Emory University, where he earned a BA, and Columbia University, where he earned an MA. He traveled to France on a Fulbright Scholarship and has taught widely across the United States and in Britain. Corn is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, including Tables (2013), Contradictions (2002), and Stake: Selected Poems, 1972–1992 . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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