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ANNE STEVENSON TRIBUTE

Posted on September 16 2020

We were deeply saddened to hear the news that the leading British-American poet Anne Stevenson passed away aged 87, earlier this week on the 14th September.

Born in Cambridge, England, of American parents, she grew up in the US in New England and Michigan before moving back to Britain in 1964 and finally settling in Durham. Her work was first published in the UK by Oxford University Press before she moved to Bloodaxe Books in 2000 with the reissue of her Collected Poems 1955-1995 . This was followed by A Report from the Border (2003), Poems 1955-2005 (2005), Stone Milk (2007) and Astonishment (2012). As well as sixteen collections of poetry, Anne Stevenson published a biography of Sylvia Plath, Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath (Penguin, 1989), a book of essays and two critical studies of Elizabeth Bishop.

She was the inaugural winner of Britain’s biggest literary prize, the Northern Rock Foundation Writer’s Award, in 2002 and three major US prizes: the $200,000 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award for Poetry, a Neglected Masters Award from the Poetry Foundation of Chicago and The Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry.  

Earlier this year she published her sixteenth collection, which she called her ‘swansong’, Completing the Circle, which was reviewed in our PBS Bulletin. A wry and moving collection, Completing the Circle (Bloodaxe Books) looks back on her past from 'the viewpoint of a bewildered survivor facing up to the realities of time passing' with characteristic wit and compassion. The title-poem, inspired by Rilke, expresses her own belief that 'death naturally and rightly completes the cycle we recognise and accept as life'. She leaves behind an astonishing legacy of poetry.

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