Allen Grossman About Aleph

The Work

Allen Grossman was born in 1932 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended Harvard with interruptions from 1949-1956 (B.A., M.A.). He received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1960. From 1957 to 1991 he taught at Brandeis where he was the Paul E. Prosswimmer Professor of Poetry and General Education. In 1971 he was a visiting Professor in the Universitat HaNegev in Beersheba, Israel. In 1991 he became the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at The Johns Hopkins University where he now teaches in the English Department.

At Harvard he received the Garrison Award for Poetry and the Prize of the American Academy of Poetry. He has also received the Golden Rose of the New England Poetry Club, three Pushcart Prizes (1975, 1987, 1990), the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim (1982), and a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1985). In 1987 he received the Sara Teasdale Memorial Prize in Poetry of Wellesley College, and in 1988 the Sheaffer-PEN/Nex England Award for Literary Distinction. He is included in Scribner's Best Poems for 1988 (ed. Ashbery), 1991 (ed. (Simic), 1992 (ed. Strand), 1993 (ed. Gluck). In August 1989 he received a John D. and Catherine T. Mac Arthur Fellowship Prize to continue for a period of five years. In 1990, the Bassine Citation of the Academy of American Poets. In 1992 his book, The Ether Dome, was a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee.

In 1993 he was elected Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Science.

In 2009 he was the winner of Yale University's Bollingen Prize.

His death in 2014 was from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He is survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter, and many students whom he named 'Dilectissimi'.

His teaching was primarily in the areas of poetry, poetics, and general education. In 1979 he devised and put in place (with others) a General Education Program at Brandeis University and served for some years as Director in the Humanities Division of that program. In 1965 he received the A. B. Cohen Award for Teaching at Brandeis, and in 1982 the Brandeis University Distinguished Service Award. In 1987 he was the CASE Massachusetts State Professor of the Year and National Gold Medalist.


Jorie Graham: If the hero – the singer – is indeed sighted, and his lens a tear, the vision of humanity this truly astonishing journey reveals – in the purgatorial mud of the road of history of death &ndash and in the uprising of the seed-spirit into truth – is a Romance in the truest sense.  Beyond tragedy, beyond comedy, peace must be bestowed.  In this marriage of means – part almanac, part allegory, part advice column, obituary page, hymnal, epic drama – from the bottom reaches of the underworld, to the elevations from which one need cry out to be heard – Grossman invents such peace as Poetry can invent.

Geoffrey Hartman: Grossman's poems, a continuous act of confrontation, brave comparison with verses that today are sacred as verse, untouchable in their strength.

Robert Fitzgerald: The reader who takes up these poems will appreciate at once the altogether distinctive beauty of lines and phrases. . . falling as unlaboredly on the page as light falls through a framing window on a wall.  The prosodic or musical achievement is itself a rare one amid the poetries of the time, and like most fine art comes of long study and the intense exercise of choice.

The Work

Some of Allen Grossman's books can be ordered online from New Directions Press.

Many are also available from Amazon, along with several articles and
Poetry's Poet: Essays on the Poetry, Pedagogy and Poetics of Allen Grossman
edited by Daniel Morris.


A Harlot’s Hire (1961)
The Recluse (1963)
And the Dew Lay All Night upon My Branch (1973)
The Woman on the Bridge over the Chicago River (1979)
Of the Great House: A Book of Poems (1982)
The Bright Nails Scattered on the Ground (1986)
The Ether Dome and Other Poems: New & Selected, (1991)
The Philosopher’s Window and Other Poems (1995)
How to Do Things with Tears (2001)
Sweet Youth: Poems by a Young Man and an Old Man, Old and New (2002)
Descartes' Loneliness (2007)


Poetic Knowledge in Early Yeats (1970)
Against Our Vanishing: Winter Conversations With Allen Grossman, with Mark Halliday (1981)
The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers, with Mark Halliday (1991)
The Long Schoolroom: Lessons in the Bitter Logic of the Poetic Principle (1997)


Eulogy for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. (1968)

Poetry, a Basic Course, a taped lecture. (1990)

Poem Present. (2004)