Poet Richard Tillinghast was born in Memphis, Tennessee. As an undergraduate at the University of the South, Tillinghast participated in nonviolent protests against segregation. He went on to pursue graduate work at Harvard University, where he studied with Robert Lowell.
Tillinghast is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Six Mile Mountain (2000) and The New Life (2008). Using formal constraint to shape and sharpen his examinations of historical and personal events, Tillinghast is often concerned with the elusive nature of home. Poet Floyd Skloot, reviewing The Stonecutter’s Hand (1995) for the Harvard Review, observed that in those poems, “the urgency—the impulse to go—rises from a need to strip the self down to its essence, to relocate intimacy and a sense of community by immersing himself in remoteness.”
Tillinghast’s poems are informed by his travels, which have been supported by grants from the Creative Arts Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation, and the Michigan Council for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the American Research Institute, the British Council, and the Irish Arts Council. He has also received the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Fellowship. The winner of the Ann Stanford Prize for Poetry and the James Dickey Poetry Prize, Tillinghast was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Award for Excellence in Book Reviewing. He has reviewed contemporary poetry extensively for the New York Times Book Review as well as for the New Criterion and the Irish Times.
Tillinghast is also the author of Robert Lowell’s Life and Work: Damaged Grandeur (1996) and the essay collections Poetry and What Is Real (2004) and Finding Ireland: A Poet’s Explorations of Irish Literature and Culture (2008). He is the editor of A Visit to the Gallery (1997), an anthology of ekphrastic poems responding to paintings at the Museum of Art at the University of Michigan.
In 2000 Tillinghast founded the Bear River Writers Conference, which he directed until 2005. He has taught at Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Michigan. He lives in rural Ireland.