Gregory Djanikian’s collections include Dear Gravity (2014), So I Will Till the Ground (2007), Years Later (2000), Falling Deeply into America (1989), and The Man in the Middle (1984). His poems have also appeared in numerous magazines and journals, such as Poetry, the Nation, and the American Scholar, as well as on television, when he was featured on PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MFA from Syracuse University.
His work explores, among other things, the private and public legacies of family, history, and culture, often through meditations on his own Armenian heritage and childhood emigration to the United States. His poems can be sad, revealing, and funny all at once; poet Stephen Dunn calls him “a gardener of the human spirit” whose poems “replenish” while offering readers “a wonderful variety of tones.”
His poems also investigate how language, especially the American idiom, is enriched or reinvented. He has a keen ear for what he calls the “unexpected syntactic constructions” and “surprising turns of phrase” that immigrants contribute to English. His honors and awards includes fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Eunice Tietjens Prize and Friends of Literature Prize, and the Anahid Literary Award from the Armenian Center at Columbia University. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he now lives in Philadelphia, where he directs the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania.