Poems by Frank Bidart

Lament for the Makers

Music Like Dirt

Star Dust


Frank Bidart’s poems are spare, elliptical, and swift with movement. As Louise Gluck writes, “The importance of Bidart’s work is difficult to overestimate; certainly he is one of the crucial figures of our time.”

Many creatures must / make, but only one must seek // within itself what to make,” he writes in “Lament for the Makers,” and asks assistance of the “masters who by making were / remade.” The process of making—by a deity, ruler, parent, artist, or self—is at the core of Bidart’s poetic narratives, an incessant interior question. Other concerns that cycle through his poems are the shaping of minds and bodies, the fate of the creature, and the artist’s responsibility to himself and his world. Through dramatic monologue, indirect discourse, and history’s found phrases, and to haunting effect, his poems perform a kind of collage of modern identity.

A student and friend of Robert Lowell’s at Harvard, Bidart edited, with David Gewanter, The Collected Poems of Robert Lowell. Beginning in 1973 with Golden State, which was chosen for the Braziller Series, Bidart has published six volumes of his own, including In the Western Night (a volume of new and selected), and Desire (both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, in 1990 and 1997, respectively). In 2000, the Academy of American Poets presented him with the Wallace Stevens Award, recognizing a career that has spanned more than thirty years and continues its grand arcs in Star Dust, Bidart’s most recent volume and a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award. Star Dust incorporates the 2002 sequence “Music Like Dirt,” the first chapbook ever to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Bidart lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and teaches at Wellesley College.

  Poetry Center Reading:



Spring 2007