Poet, scholar, and nonfiction writer Maggie Nelson earned a PhD in English literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her work is often described as genre crossing or hybrid; she has noted her interest in poet Eileen Myles’s idea of “vernacular scholarship,” adding, “I need to talk back, or talk with, theorists and philosophers in ordinary language, to dramatize how much their ideas matter to me in my everyday life.” Nelson’s book Bluets (2009) is perhaps her most well-known work mix of scholarship and poetry. Her other collections of poetry include Something Bright, Then Holes (2007), Jane: A Murder (2005), The Latest Winter (2003), and Shiner (2001), which was a finalist for a Norma Farber First Book Award. She is the author of an account of sexual violence and the media, The Red Parts: A Memoir (2007), and a critical work on the New York School poets, Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007), which won a Susanne M. Glassock Award for Interdisciplinary Scholarship. Her critical study of aesthetics and cruelty, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (2011), was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her genre-bending memoir The Argonauts (2015) was a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award.
Nelson’s many honors and awards include grants and fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the NEA. She is also the recipient of an Innovative Literature grant from Creative Capital for her forthcoming book of nonfiction.
Nelson lives in Los Angeles with her partner, the artist Harry Dodge, and their two children. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts.