Michael Gessner was born and raised in Michigan. He earned his BA from Wayne State University and his MA and PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has authored 11 books of poetry, essays, and fiction, most recently Selected Poems (2016). Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, he has been a finalist and semi-finalist in various competitions, including “Discovery”/The Nation poetry contest, the Pablo Neruda Award, and North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize.
Although Gessner wrote poems in his teens and published in little magazines since his 20s, he published his first chapbook (Earthly Bodies) at the age of 60. Aside from experimental poems in L e t t e r s (2007) and Artificial Life (2009), Gessner’s poems are typically lyrical and elegiac. Robert Pinsky noted the musicality of the poems in Beast Book (2010). In Gessner’s collection Transversales (2013), Rebecca Seiferle found “a music of the mind ... a haunting imagery as when he evokes the rain as ‘the patterings of an unknown companion … returned to wrap this house in sheets of itself.’ … His lines intersect us with a sense of beingness that is everywhere.”
Gessner’s articles and reviews have appeared in Jacket2, The Edgar Allan Poe Review, and American Letters & Commentary. He served as editor for La Roca, Florence State Penitentiary, and helped to establish creative writing programs for the Navajo at Ganado and Tuba City, Arizona. He taught at Central Arizona College and the University of Arizona. Gessner lives in Tucson.