Ponsot’s collections of poetry include Easy (2009), National Book Critics Circle Award-winner and Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize finalist The Bird Catcher (1998), The Green Dark (1988), and True Minds (1956). Springing: New and Selected Poems (2002) has been praised by critic Harold Bloom, who proclaimed, “Marie Ponsot’s poetic achievement is fiercely independent. A courageous eloquence is sustained throughout her work, as she mounts up what Emerson called ‘the stairway of surprise.’” With Rosemary Deen, Ponsot co-authored Beat Not the Poor Desk (1982), a guide to teaching writing. She has also translated more than 30 books into English from French, including Love & Folly: Selected Fables and Tales of La Fontaine (2002) and the Golden Book of Fairy Tales (1958).
Ponsot, who wrote much of her body of work while raising seven children by herself, often makes use of challenging received forms such as the villanelle, sestina, and tritina in poems lit by domestic and urban transformations. In a 1999 New York Times interview, Ponsot discussed her relationship to form, stating, “The forms create an almost bodily pleasure in the poet. What you’re doing is trying to discover. They are not restrictive. They pull things out of you. They help you remember.” Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman observes that Ponsot “toys with homonyms, elastic rhyme schemes, and paradoxes both linguistic and philosophical in her fluid and efficient poems.” Regarding Ponsot’s style, poet-critic Stephen Burt has observed, “For all its insistence on exuberance, there is something brittle, like china, about Ponsot’s style. Other poets who use, as she does, short lines, a conversational pace and frequent enjambments can feel rushed or wild. Ponsot instead tends to tread slowly, as if careful not to damage the copious beauties she finds on the streets of Manhattan, in its museums, in clouds, in air.”
Ponsot’s honors include a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Shaughnessy Medal of the Modern Language Association, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize, and the Lilly Prize. In 2010, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Ponsot has taught at New York University and Columbia University. She lives in New York City.
Poems By MARIE PONSOT
More poems by Marie Ponsot (24 poems)
- For a Still-Born Child
- For Elizabeth Bleecker Averell, D. 20 June 1957
- For My Brother: "Other Systems Must Exist"
- From "The First, at the Last"
- Hangzhou, Lake of the Poets
- Northampton Style
- Old Mama Saturday
- Out of Water
- Paeonia "Souvenir de Maxime Cornu", Incidentally
- Pathetic Fallacies Are Bad Science But
- Pourriture Noble
- Private and Profane
- Ritournelle, Paris 1948
- Wedding Song
Audio & PodcastsPoetry Off the Shelf
2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize Winner: Marie Ponsot
The poet reads and discusses her work.
Don't Let It Snow
Hear poems by Marie Ponsot and Hayden Carruth about the dark side of the white stuff.
The Effect of Small Things
Poems from Marie Ponsot, Laura Kasischke, Todd Boss, Campbell McGrath, and Kathleen Jamie; plus C.K. Williams on the foreboding of environmental doom.
May 2013: Yes, Tarp
Poems from Marie Ponsot, Jessica Greenbaum, and Rick Barot; plus Amiri Baraka on the Black Arts Movement.
VideoNewsHour Poetry Series
- At 88, Marie Ponsot's Work Hasn't Skipped a Beat
A profile of 88-year-old poet Marie Ponsot, who published her sixth collection of poems last month called Easy.