Born in Dover, Delaware, Cyrus Cassells grew up in the Mojave Desert near Los Angeles, California. He earned a BA from Stanford University. Cassells is the author of The Mud Actor (1982), winner of the 1981 National Poetry Series competition; Soul Make a Path through Shouting (1994), nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the William Carlos William Award; Beautiful Signor (1997), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; More Than Peace and Cypresses (2004); and The Crossed-Out Swastika (2012). His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Indiana Review, AGNI, The Literati Quarterly, Boston Review, and elsewhere. Cassells’s poetry examines personal encounters with history, love and eroticism, and suffering and violence. On The Crossed-Out Swastika, reviewer Dan Shewan said, “Cassells approaches his subject with diligence, often choosing to craft poems inspired by the struggles and experiences of real people. … The sense of pace is beautifully sustained throughout the collection, alternating between frantic moments of panic to somber reflections on the nature of suffering.”
Cassells has held fellowships with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. He has received the Lannan Literary Award, the Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poet Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. Cassells, who also works as a translator, film critic, and actor, teaches at the MFA program at Texas State University-San Marcos. He lives in Austin.