Annie Finch is a poet, performer, editor, critic, teacher, nonfiction writer, and verse playwright, author of more than twenty books and chapbooks of poetry, plays, translation, literary essays, textbooks and anthologies. Her poems are collected in such anthologies as The Norton Anthology of World Poetry and The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Her six books of poetry include Eve (Story Line Press, 1997), a finalist for both the Yale Series of Younger Poets and the National Poetry Series; Calendars (Tupelo Press, 2005), shortlisted for the Foreword Book of the Year Award; and most recently Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2013). She has also published translations from Ancient Greek, Anglo-Saxon, Russian, and French including a translation of the complete poetry of French Renaissance poet Louise Labe (University of Chicago Press, 2006).
Finch's opera libretto Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams (Red Hen Press, 2010) received the Sarasvati Award from the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, and her libretto "Marina" premiered from American Opera Projects in New York, with music by Deborah Drattell and directed by Anne Bogart. Other poetic collaborations with theater, opera, dance, music, and visual art, including "Wolf Song" (2012) and the one-woman show "Five Directions"(2015), have been produced at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Spoleto Festival, Chicago Art Institute, and Carnegie Hall. Finch's other commissioned and occasional poems include a Phi Beta Kappa poem for Yale University, the keynote poem for the launch of the Mezzo Cammin Women's Poetry Timeline at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and "Names," installed as part of the 9-11 Memorial at the Cathedral of St. John Divine in New York.
Annie Finch has also been influential as a critic and editor. Her twelve books on poetics include A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women, The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse, An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art (with Kathrine Varnes); Multiformalisms: Postmodern Poetics of Form (with Susan Schultz); A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry; and Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters (with Alexandra Oliver). Her essays on poetics are collected in The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self. Her groundbreaking work reimagining the aesthetic traditions of the “poetess,” particularly the essay “The Poetess in the World: Metaphor and Subjectivity in Lydia Sigourney’s Nature Poetry” (Legacy, 1987), is widely cited. In 1998 she founded the international online community WOM-PO (Discussion of Women's Poetry Listserv). Much of Finch’s critical work centers on reframing and redefining the role of poetic meter and form in contemporary poetry, and in 2010 she was awarded the Robert Fitzgerald Award for her lifetime contribution to the art of prosody.
The Dictionary of Literary Biography calls Annie Finch a “central figure” whose work “challenges the various orthodoxies of contemporary American poetry . . . In a milieu shaped by the boundaries between avant-garde, narrative, formal and performance poetics, Finch brings together all of these traditions in her musical poetry, exploratory anthologies, and probing theoretical work. Finch’s poetry and criticism have played a major role in recent feminist poetics and reinvigorated the discussion and practice of formalism for the postmodern era. Uniting all of her work is a conception of poetry as incantatory and performative, marking the deepest meanings of our lives through the body as well as the mind."
Annie Finch has held fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, Wesleyan Writers Conference, the Architecture and Spirituality Forum, and Cherry Hill Seminary where she was the inaugural artist in residence. She is an Emeritus Fellow of Black Earth Institute, served for a decade as Director of the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing, and has taught and performed at universities including Harvard, Notre Dame, and U.C. Berkeley and at poetry conferences including Poetry by the Sea and the West Chester Poetry Conference. Based in Washington, DC, she teaches on the faculty of the St. Francis College low-residency MFA in Creative Writing in Brooklyn.
I was born on Halloween to a progressive political and artistic family. My mother was a poet and artist, my father a professor of philosophy. My lineage is Nordic and Celtic and goes back on both sides to the Mayflower, with ancestors including artists and sculptors, witches accused at Salem, suffragettes, socialists, Quakers, pacifists, and women writers. I spent second grade with my family travelling to spiritual sites around Europe and the Middle East in a Volkswagon van, and started writing poetry when I got home. Twenty years later, I discovered paganism in San Francisco and became a fully-empowered witch in 1999.
Along the way, I married the environmental activist Glen Brand in 1985 and we have two children we adore, Julian and Althea. My favorite scents are rose and patchouli, my favorite flavors hazelnut and raspberry, my favorite flowers irises and columbine. I love gold jewelry and spirals. My favorite album is Cyndi Lauper's The Body Acoustic and my favorite classical music is oboe concertos. I have three tattoos.
Increasingly, although I continue to teach poetry workshops for poets and witchy workshops for spiritual seekers, in my own heart I sense no real difference between my two callings.Witches are healers, and rhythmic words can heal. Medicine people, shamans, healers, griots, and bards in tribal cultures the world over have used the rocking patterns of metrical and rhythmical language to help them change consciousness, commune with other people, and channel the powers of the land and its deities. This is my lineage as poet and as witch. My goal in my writing and in my spiritual teaching is to help empower female energy to take its place at the center of human life again, healing the earth and the species from the wounds that patriarchy has inflicted on humanity over the past 2500 years.