Alfred Corn

Alfred Corn
Born Alfred DeWitt Corn III
(1943-08-14) August 14, 1943
Bainbridge, Georgia
Occupation Poet, Writer, Critic
Genre Poetry, Essays
Notable awards Guggenheim Fellowship
Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets[1][2]
Spouse Ann Jones (divorced)
Partner Walter Brown, J.D. McClatchy

Alfred Corn (born August 14, 1943) is an American poet and essayist.

Early life

Alfred Corn was born in Bainbridge, Georgia in 1943 and raised in Valdosta, Georgia.

Corn graduated from Emory University in 1965 with a B.A. in French literature. Corn earned an M.A. in French literature at Columbia University in 1967.

Corn travelled to France to study on a Fulbright Scholarship where he met Ann Jones, whom he would later marry.[3] After he and Ann Jones divorced, he was partnered with the architect Walter Brown in the years 1971–1976,and then with J.D. McClatchy from 1977 until 1989.


His first book of poems, All Roads at Once, appeared in 1976, followed by A Call in the Midst of the Crowd (1978), The Various Light (1980), Notes from a Child of Paradise (1984), The West Door (1988), Autobiographies (1992). His seventh book of poems, titled Present, appeared in 1997, along with a novel titled 'Part of His Story'.,[4] and a study of prosody, The Poem’s Heartbeat[5] (Story Line Press, 1997; Copper Canyon Press, 2008). Stake: Selected Poems, 1972–1992, appeared in 1999, followed by Contradictions in 2002. He has also published a collection of critical essays titled The Metamorphoses of Metaphor (1988) and a work of art criticism, Aaron Rose Photographs (Abrams Books, 2001). In January 2013, Tables, a volume of poems, was published by Press53. In April 2014, Unions, a volume of poems, was published by Barrow Street Press. In December 2014, Miranda's Book, a novel, was published by Eyewear Publishing in London, United Kingdom.

Corn was awarded the 1982 Levinson Prize by Poetry Magazine.[6]

Corn received an Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters in 1983 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1986.[1] In 1987, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets.[2]

Additional fellowships and prizes awarded for his poetry include the National Endowment for the Arts, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a residency at The Bellagio Center for the Rockefeller Foundation.


For many years (1983–2001) he taught in the Graduate Writing Program of the Columbia University School of the Arts and has held visiting posts at UCLA, the City University of New York, the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, Sarah Lawrence, Yale University, and the University of Tulsa. As critic, he has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The Washington Post Book World, and The New Republic. Beginning in 1989 and continuing to the present, he has published reviews and articles for Art in America and ARTnews magazines. For 2004–2005, he held the Amy Clampitt residency in Lenox, Massachusetts. In 2005–2006, he lived in London, teaching a course for the Poetry School, and one for the Arvon Foundation at Totleigh Barton, Devon. In 2007 he directed a poetry-writing course at Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, and in 2008 he taught at the Almássera Vella Arts Center in Spain. His first play, Lowell’s Bedlam opened at Pentameters Theatre in London in 2011. He was a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge in 2012 and after his residency was made a Life Fellow. In the same year, he published an e-book, Transatlantic Bridge: A Concise Guide to American and British English, detailing differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and punctuation.

Critical reception

The critic Harold Bloom singled out Corn’s All Roads at Once as the best first book of that year (The New Republic, 1976) and said in a jacket comment for A Call in the Midst of the Crowd:

“Alfred Corn’s second book of poems goes well beyond fulfilling the authentic promise of his first. The title poem is an extraordinary and quite inevitable extension of the New York tradition of major visionary poems, which goes from Poe’s ‘City in the Sea’ and Whitman’s ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’ to Hart Crane’s The Bridge and Ashbery’s ‘Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror.’ Corn achieves an authority and resonance wholly worthy of his precursors. I know of nothing else of such ambition and realized power in Corn’s own generation of American poets. He has had the skill and courage to confront, absorb, and renew our poetic tradition at its most vital. His aesthetic prospects are remarkable, even in this crowded time.”

Bloom’s characterization of these books as belonging to the tradition of American Romanticism was a stimulus for much of the critical attention, positive or negative, focused on Corn during the following decades. Critics and poet-critics as diverse as Richard Howard, Charles Molesworth, Robert B. Shaw, Joel Conarroe, Jay Parini, John Hollander, Wayne Koestenbaum, David Lehmann, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Amy Clampitt, and Carolyn Forché, have made penetrating observations about his work.

Corn's work relative to other literary "schools"

The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton University Press, 1993) grouped Corn with poets who came to be known as the “New Formalists” (see New Formalism) but Corn has never appeared in the anthologies associated with this group. A noticeable percentage of his poetry uses meter, rhyme, and verseform, and he has written a widely circulated introduction to English-language prosody, The Poem’s Heartbeat. The critic Robert K. Martin, in his The Homosexual Tradition in American Poetry (1979, revised 1998) placed Corn’s poetry in a line that begins with Whitman and continues through Crane, Merrill, and Thom Gunn to the present; and Corn has appeared in several anthologies of gay poetry such as The World In Us (2000). But he has also appeared in more general anthologies such as The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Fourth and Fifth Edition, 1996 and 2005) and The Making Of a Poem (Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, 2000). Unusual for a poet, he has published one novel (favorably received by critic A.O. Scott in The Nation in a 1997 review) and several short stories; he has also written a second novel not yet scheduled for publication. Since the 1990s, he has been associated with poets like Marilyn Hacker, Sam Hamill, and Marie Ponsot, whose work reflects liberal and progressive political perspectives.



  1. 1 2 "272 TO SHARE $5.9 MILLION IN GUGGENHEIM AWARDS". The New York Times. April 13, 1986. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
  2. 1 2 "Alfred Corn". Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
  3. Colby, Vineta, ed. (1995). World Authors, 1985–1990. H. W. Wilson. pp. 166–168. ISBN 0-8242-0875-7.
  4. Hower, Edward (April 27, 1997). "The Plague Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
  5. Site developed by Sage Computer Services ( "The Poem's Heartbeat by Alfred Corn". Copper Canyon Press. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
  6. Poetry Magazine. "Prizes". Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-03.

External links

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