Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Richard Katrovas spent his earliest years traveling with his family while his father, a con man, attempted to evade arrest. Katrovas was adopted by relatives as a teenager and lived in Japan for three years before moving to California. He earned a BA from San Diego State University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. As he stated in a 2007 interview, “My response to the chaos of my childhood has been to embrace formalism as an adult artist.”
Influenced by John Keats, Gerald Stern, and Philip Levine, Katrovas is the author of numerous collections of formal poetry, including Green Dragons (1983), Dithyrambs: Choral Lyrics (1998), and Prague Winter (2004). Reviewing Snug Harbor (1987), New York Times critic Sherrod Santos praised Katrovas’s work as “tough, direct, gritty and full of wonder,” observing that his “great strength is his ability to touch on other lives without seeming to appropriate them.”
As a 1989 Fulbright Fellow in Prague, Katrovas witnessed the Velvet Revolution firsthand. He is the founding academic director of the Prague Summer Program. He also edited and helped translate a double issue of the New Orleans Review focused on contemporary Czech-Slovak poetry, Ten Years after the Velvet Revolution (2000).
Katrovas has published short stories, novels, and memoirs, including The Years of Smashing Bricks (2007). His poetry has been anthologized in Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (1997), New American Poets of the ’90s (1999), Poets of the New Century (2001), and elsewhere.
In addition to his work with the Prague Summer Program, he has taught at the University of New Orleans and Western Michigan University.