A native of Detroit, Brad Leithauser graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as a research fellow at the Kyoto Comparative Law Center in Japan before turning to writing and teaching. For 21 years, he shared the position of Emily Dickinson Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at Mount Holyoke College with his wife, the poet Mary Jo Salter. In 2008, he joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University. A poet, novelist, critic, and translator, he is the winner of an Ingram Merrill Grant, an Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2005, his writings on Nordic literature earned him membership in Iceland’s Order of the Falcon.
Leithauser’s work reveals interests as diverse as ghosts, theater, Iceland, light verse, American music, and natural history—particularly insects. Darlington’s Fall, a novel in verse about an entomologist, was a New York Times Notable Book in 2002. His 2007 collection Curves and Angles included translations of Jorge Luis Borges, explorations of the body’s beauty and frailty, and poems about beetles, mushrooms, millipedes, and ants. Leithauser explained in an interview with PBS, “As a poet, I’m very interested in structures and what you might call the mathematics of poetry, the prosody of poetry, the stuff that is as independent of meaning as anything in a poem can be independent of meaning.” Critic Joel Conarroe, in a review of Hundreds of Fireflies (1982), described Leithauser as “inventive by nature, playful, and in love with language.”