Born in Paterson, New Jersey, poet and art critic Barry Schwabsky earned a BA at Haverford College and an MA at Yale University.
Engaged with the act of the encounter—whether meeting others, art, memory, or landscape—in his lyric poems, Schwabsky traces the abstract and startling movement of mind. In a 2007 interview with Tom Beckett for the blog E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S, Schwabsky addressed the connection between his poetry and his art criticism, stating, “When I was younger I think it was very important for me to see how artists use materials. It gave me the sense that I could use language as a material too—almost sculpturally. Rather than mainly in its relation to interiority, which might have been a debilitatingly strong tendency on my part otherwise.”
His poetry collections include Trembling Hand Equilibrium (2015), Book Left Open in the Rain (2008), and Opera: Poems 1981–2002 (2003), and several chapbooks. He collaborated with musician Marianne Nowottny on the CD recording A Voice Hears You from Mysterious Places (2012). He has contributed numerous poetry reviews to
Schwabsky has served as an art critic for the Nation and coeditor of international reviews for Artforum. His volumes of art criticism include Words for Art: Criticism, History, Theory, Practice (2013); Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting (2002); and The Widening Circle: Consequences of Modernism in Contemporary Art (1997).
He has taught at Yale University, the School of Visual Arts, and the Pratt Institute. After spending many years in London, he now lives in New York City.