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Annie Finch (born October 31, 1956, New Rochelle, New York) is an American poet and writer. Her books include poetry, verse drama, poetry translation, and poetics. She has also published nonfiction on spiritual topics. Dictionary of Literary Biography names her "one of the central figures in contemporary American poetry" for her role in the contemporary reclamation of poetic meter and form.[1]

Annie Finch
Annie Finch hands 2.9 mb.jpg
Born (1956-10-31) October 31, 1956 (age 61)
New Rochelle, New York, USA
Occupation poet, writer, librettist, translator
Alma mater Yale University,
University of Houston,
Stanford University
Genre poetry
Notable works Eve, Calendars, The Body of Poetry, Among the Goddesses, Spells: New and Selected Poems
Notable awards Robert Fitzgerald Award
Sarasvati Award


Early Life, Education, and The Encyclopedia of ScotlandEdit

In "Desks," an autobiographical essay in The Body of Poetry, Finch discusses how the poetry of her mother, poet and artist Margaret Rockwell Finch [2] and the ideas of her father, philosophy scholar and pacifist Henry L. Finch, influenced her work.[3]. After graduating from Yale, Finch moved to the East Village in New York City where she self-published and performed in musical productions of her experimental longpoem The Encyclopedia of Scotland, later published by Salt Publishing in the U.K..[4] She left New York to earn an MA in creative writing at the University of Houston, with poet and playwright Ntozake Shange as her thesis director in verse drama. Finch published the essay "Dickinson and Patriarchal Meter: A Theory of Metrical Codes" in PMLA before beginning her Ph.D studies in poetry and feminist theory at Stanford University. In 1985 she married environmental advocate Glen Brand at the Rothko Chapel. They have two children.


Finch's second book Eve (Story Line Press, 1997), was a finalist for awards including the National Poetry Series and the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Reviewers noted the book's incantatory use of form as "a bioacoustic key to memory and emotion."[5] Her third book, Calendars (Tupelo Press, 2003), was praised in similar terms and was shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year.[6] Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams received the 2012 Sarasvati Award for Poetry. A selected volume, Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), excerpts her previous books. The fifty previously unpublished poems including new poems and "the lost poems," experimental, nonreferential poems in meter written during the 1980s."[7]

Finch's poems for public occasions include the keynote poem for the Inauguration of the Women's Poetry Timeline at the National Museum for Women in the Arts, the 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Poem for Yale University, and the memorial poem for the September 11 attacks accompanying the commemorative sculpture by Meredith Bergmann installed in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine.[8].

Finch's poetry has been collected in numerous anthologies including the Penguin Book of The Sonnet andPenguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry.


Finch's translation from French of the poetry of Louise Labé was published by University of Chicago Press, honored by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, and represented in the Norton Anthology of World Literature.

Creative collaborations and performanceEdit

Finch has written several works in a genre she calls "ritual poetic theater," including Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams on the theme of abortion and goddess-centered spirituality, and Wolf Song, centered on the ecology of the wolf, which premiered at Portland, Maine's Mayo Street Arts in 2012 in a multimedia production with music, dance, puppets, and masks. Her opera libretto, Marina, based on the life of poet Marina Tsvetaeva, was produced by American Opera Projects in 2003 with music by Deborah Drattell, directed by Anne Bogart, and sung by Lauren Flanigan. Composers including Stefania de Kennessey, Deborah Drattell,Bruce Rockwell, and Dale Trumbore have set Finch's poetry to music.

Earth-centered spiritualityEdit

Themes and images in Finch's poetry have been inspired by earth-centered spirituality and a belief in the sacredness of nature. The structure of Eve is based on a series of poems on Goddesses, and Calendars is organized around the pagan Wheel of the Year. Finch began writing a blog called American Witch in December 2009 [9] and has published columns about being a witch and about goddess spirituality in the Huffington Post. In an interview she stated, "Some of my poems are lyric, some narrative, some dramatic, and some meditative, but all are concerned with the mystery of the embodied sacred, whether in relationships with nature or other people, or with spiritual issues more directly.".[10] In the title essay of her book of essays The Body of Poetry, Finch connects poetic meter and form with the idea of the Goddess as embodied in the world. [11] Claire Keyes notes in Scribner's American Writers, "A strong current in [Finch's] work is the decentering of the self, a theme which stems from her deep connection with the natural world and her perception of the self as part of nature."[12] She writes in the preface of her 2013 collection Spells: New and Selected Poems that she considers her poems and verse plays to be "spells" whose rhythm and form invite readers "to experience words not just in the mind but in the body." [13]

Critical work and teachingEdit

Finch's critical work and editing has been influential in delineating a diverse and postmodern perspective on poetic form and pattern. Her essay collection The Body of Poetry explores the role of form in contemporary poetry, discusses the importance of form in poetic translation, analyzes the self in women's poetic traditions, and discusses the importance of "Metrical Diversity," poets reading and writing other rhythmical patterns in addition to iambic meter. [14] The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse is devoted to Finch's theory of "the metrical code," a semiotics of meaning in the rhythmic patterns of free verse poetry. .[15] Finch has edited several anthologies of poetic form as well as books on the theory of poetic form such as Multiformalisms: Postmodern Poetics of Form, coedited with exploratory poet Susan Schulz. Her books on writing poetry include A Poet's Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry, called "nothing less than an MFA program in 700 pages" by critic G. M. Palmer. [16][17]

Finch's critical writings on women's poetic traditions, notably her 1987 article on metaphor and subjectivity in the poetry of Lydia Sigourney, are also influential, known for being perhaps the first to take a serious critical approach to the aesthetic she has called "poetess poetics.".[18]

Finch has taught writing as a faculty member at New College of California, Miami University, Stonecoast MFA Program, where she served as Director from 2004 to 2013, and at the MFA in Creative Writing Program at St. Francis College. She has taught at many writing conferences, including West Chester Poetry Conference and Poetry by the Sea, as well as at women's conferences including A Room of Her Own and Where Womyn Gather. In 1997, she founded the Discussion of Women Poets listserv, known as Wom-Po, and facilitated that community until 2004 when she passed that role on to poet Amy King.

Honors and awardsEdit

  • 2012 Among the Goddesses Awarded Sarasvati Award for Poetry by the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology
  • 2009 Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award
  • 2008 Fellowship, Black Earth Institute
  • 2006 Complete Poetry of Louise Labe Awarded Honorable Mention for a translation in the field of women’s studies by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women
  • 2005 Alumni Award, University of Houston Creative Writing Program
  • 2003 Calendars a finalist for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award
  • 1993 Nicholas Roerich Fellow, Wesleyan Writers Conference


Books of PoetryEdit

  • Spells: New and Selected Poems. Wesleyan University Press, 2012.
  • Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams Red Hen Press, 2010. [Winner, Sarasvati Award for Poetry, Association for the Study of Women and Mythology].
  • The Complete Poetry and Prose of Louise Labé: A Bilingual Edition. Edited with Critical Introductions and Prose Translations by Deborah Lesko Baker and Poetry Translations by Annie Finch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. (Translation).
  • Calendars. Tupelo Press, 2003. [Shortlisted, Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award for 2003]. Second edition with Audio CD and downloadable Readers' Companion, 2008.
  • Eve. Story Line Press. 1997. [Finalist, National Poetry Series, Yale Series of Younger Poets, Brittingham Prize].
  • The Encyclopedia of Scotland. Caribou Press, 1982; Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2005.


  • A Poet’s Ear: A Handbook of Meter and Form. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.
  • A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Shaping Your Poems. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012.
  • The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self. Poets on Poetry Series, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.
  • The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993. Paperback edition with new preface, 2001.

Poetry ChapbooksEdit

  • Goddess Poems. Poetry Witch Press 2015 (self-published).
  • The Voice Was the Sea. Voices From the American Land, 2013.
  • Shadow-Bird: From the Lost Poems. Dusie Kollektiv/Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009.
  • Annie Finch's Greatest Hits: Poems 1975-2005. Pudding House, 2006.
  • Home Birth. Dos Madres Press, 2004.
  • Season Poems. Calliope Press, 2002.
  • Catching the Mermother. Aralia Press, 1996.
  • The Encyclopedia of Scotland: A Libretto. Caribou Press, 1982 (self-published).

Opera LibrettiEdit

  • Lily Among the Goddesses. Music by Deborah Drattell. Production in progress.
  • Marina. American Opera Projects, DR2 Theater, New York, 2003.

Edited booksEdit

  • Measure for Measure: The Music of Poetry. Coeditor with Alexandra Oliver. Random House: Everymans Library, 2015.
  • Villanelles. Coeditor with Marie-Elizabeth Mali. Random House: Everymans Library, 2012.
  • Multiformalisms: Postmodern Poetics of Form. Coeditor with Susan Schultz. WordTech Communications, 2008.
  • A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women. Brownsville, OR: Story Line Press, 1994. Reprinted by Wordtech Editions, 2007.
  • Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics. Coeditor with Maxine Kumin and Deborah Brown. University of Arkansas Press, 2005.
  • An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. With Katherine Varnes. University of Michigan Press, 2002.
  • Carolyn Kizer: Perspectives on Her Life and Work. Coeditor with Johanna Keller and Candace McClelland. CavanKerry Press, 2000.
  • After New Formalism: Poets on Form, Narrative, and Tradition. Brownsville, OR: Story Line Press, 1999.


  1. ^ Barron, Jonathan N. "Annie Finch." Dictionary of Literary Biography 282, 101
  2. ^ Finch, Margaret Rockwell, Crone's Wines, Ablemuse Press, 2017
  3. ^ Finch, Annie. "Desks." The Body of Poetry, 106-110
  4. ^ Finch, Annie. "Preface." The Encyclopedia of Scotland, xi
  5. ^ Rawlins, C.L. "Review of Eve," Rain Taxi, Fall 1998
  6. ^ Small Press Distribution Catalog. "Calendars,"
  7. ^ Finch, Annie. "Preface." Spells: New and Selected Poems, iv
  8. ^ Finch, Annie. "The Naming." "Poetry Witch Blog," Annie Finch's website
  9. ^
  10. ^ Finch, Annie. "An Interview with Annie Finch." Poemeleon[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Finch, Annie. "The Body of Poetry" The Body of Poetry, 84
  12. ^ Keyes, Claire. "Annie Finch." Scribners American Writers Series 2009, 00
  13. ^ Finch, Annie. "Preface." Spells: New and Selected Poems, xi
  14. ^ Finch, Annie. "Metrical Diversity." The Body of Poetry, 84-92
  15. ^ Finch, Annie. "Metrical Diversity." The Body of Poetry, 84-92
  16. ^ Brock, J. "Review of An Exaltation of Forms, Choice, September 2002
  17. ^ Palmer, G.M. "Why We Read: Spells by Annie Finch, The Critical Flame, September 2013
  18. ^ "The Sentimental Poetess in the World: Metaphor and Subjectivity in Lydia Sigourney's Nature Poetry, Legacy Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 1988), pp. 3-18

External linksEdit