Born in California’s Mojave Desert, poet Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia and attended the College of William & Mary, where he majored in geology. After earning an MA in literature from San Francisco State University, Gander moved to Mexico, then to Arkansas, where his poetry—informed by his knowledge of geology—turned its attention to landscape as foreground or source of action.
Gander’s books of poetry include Eye Against Eye (2005), Torn Awake (2001), and Science & Steepleflower (1998). Critic Barbara Fischer wrote in the Boston Review that Gander’s poetry “marshals a sinewy and strenuous language for familial, sensory, and erotic experience.” A master of the long poem, Gander uses the form to consider his subjects from a variety of approaches, and as the proving ground for unique formal constraints.
Though primarily a poet, Gander is also a translator, novelist, essayist, and the editor of two anthologies. He has translated collections by Mexican poets Pura López Colomé and Coral Bracho. With Kent Johnson he translated Bolivian poet Jaime Saenz’s Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jamie Saenz and The Night (2007), for which he won a PEN Translation Award. His translations of Neruda are included in The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (2004). He also edited the bilingual anthology Mouth to Mouth: Poems by Twelve Contemporary Mexican Women (1993). Gander’s own poetry has been translated into several languages. His novel, As a Friend, was published in 2008.
Gander has won the Whiting Writers’ Award, a Howard Foundation Award, the Jessica Nobel Maxwell Memorial Prize, two Gertrude Stein Awards for innovative North American writing, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and United States Artists. He has taught at Harvard and Brown.
He lives in Rhode Island and coedits books for Lost Roads Publishers, a literary small press. He was married to the poet C.D. Wright until her death in 2016.