Poet Linda Pastan was raised in New York City but has lived for most of her life in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. In her senior year at Radcliffe College, Pastan won the Mademoiselle poetry prize (Sylvia Plath was the runner-up). Immediately following graduation, however, she decided to give up writing poetry in order to concentrate on raising her family. After ten years at home, her husband urged her to return to poetry. Since the early 1970s, Pastan has produced quiet lyrics that focus on themes like marriage, parenting, and grief. She is interested in the anxieties that exist under the surface of everyday life.
Pastan's many awards include the Dylan Thomas award, a Pushcart Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, in 2003. Pastan served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995 and was on the staff of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for 20 years. She is the author of over twelve books of poetry and essays. Her PM/AM: New and Selected Poems (1982) and Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968–1998 (1998) were finalists for the National Book Award; The Imperfect Paradise (1988) was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her recent collections include The Last Uncle (2001), Queen of a Rainy Country (2006), Traveling Light (2011), and Insomnia (2015). Of the last book, Pastan told the Paris Review she had chosen the title Insomnia “because the word conjures for me a struggle with consciousness itself as well as a struggle with the looming dark, just outside the window.” She lives in Potomac, Maryland.
A Perfect Circle of Sun. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1971.
On the Way to the Zoo. Washington, D.C.: Dryad Press, 1975.
Aspects of Eve. New York: Liveright, 1975.
The Five Stages of Grief. New York: Norton, 1978.
Selected Poems. London: Murray, 1979.
Setting the Table. Washington, D.C.: Dryad Press, 1980.
Waiting for My Life. New York: Norton, 1981.
PM/AM: New and Selected Poems. New York: Norton, 1982.
A Fraction of Darkness. New York: Norton, 1985.
The Imperfect Paradise. New York: Norton, 1988.
Heroes in Disguise. New York: Norton, 1991.
An Early Afterlife. New York: Norton, 1995.
Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968–1998. New York: Norton, 1998.
The Last Uncle: Poems. New York: Norton, 2002.
Queen of a Rainy Country: Poems. New York: Norton, 2006.
Traveling Light. New York: Norton, 2011.
Insomnia. New York: Norton, 2015.