Educated at New York University, Brown University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo, poet Peter Gizzi is the author of several collections of poetry, including Threshold Songs (2011), The Outernationale (2007), and Artificial Heart (1998). Influenced by Ezra Pound, the Beats, and John Ashbery, Gizzi uses both narrative and lyrical gestures to engage and question distance and light in his search for the unmapped. Reflecting on the question of whether his work is narrative or lyric, Gizzi stated in an interview with Poetry Daily, “I think I am a narrative poet—I’m just narrating my bewilderment as a citizen.” In the same interview he spoke of his desire “to compose just at the boundaries of the known—to find a way to write at the edge of an already impacted history and world which is where we always already are at all times.” Harvard Review critic Tim Peterson, reviewing Some Values of Landscape and Weather (2003), described Gizzi as “engaged in nothing less than a reinvention of the lyric, attempting an updated version that combines depth and urgency with the jaggedness of our schizophrenic contemporary experience.”
He has been poetry editor for The Nation as well as founding co-editor, with Connell McGrath, of o•blék: a journal of language arts. He has also edited The Exact Change Yearbook 1995 (1994) and The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (1998), and has co-edited My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (2008) with Kevin Killian.
Gizzi has won the Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets as well as fellowships from the Howard Foundation, the Rex Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has taught at Brown University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.