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Forrest Gander (born 1956) is an American poet, essayist, novelist, critic, and translator.

Forrest Gander
Forrest Gander at Santo Domingo Poetry Festival.jpg
Forrest Gander at Santo Domingo Poetry Festival
Born Barstow, California
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genre Poetry, Fiction, Translation
Notable awards Whiting Awards,
Guggenheim Fellowship



Born in the Mojave Desert as James Forrest Cockerille III, Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia where he and his two sisters were raised by their single mother, an elementary school teacher.[1] The four shared a two-room apartment in Annandale; Gander's estranged father ran The Mod Scene, a bar on Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village, NY. Because his father didn't pay child support, Gander's early life was financially stressful. With his mother and sisters, Gander began to travel extensively on summer road trips around the United States. The traveling, which never stopped, came to inform his interest in landscapes, languages, and cultures. Forrest and his two sisters, Karin and Lisa, were adopted by Walter J. Gander soon after Walter Gander's marriage to their mother, the former Ruth Clare Cockerille. Gander earned college degrees in geology, a subject referenced frequently in both his poems and essays, and in English literature. His work has been linked to ecopoetics and ecology. A writer in multiple genres, Gander is noted for his many collaborations with other artists. He is a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow and the recipient of fellowships from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The Whiting Foundation, and the Howard Foundation. In 2017, he was elected as a Chancellor to the Academy of American Poets.

He taught at Providence College and at Harvard University before becoming the Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Literary Arts and Comparative Literatures at Brown University in Rhode Island.

Gander was married to the poet CD Wright. Together they raised a son, the artist-craftsman Brecht Wright Gander.

Writing and translationEdit

Gander speaking at an event in Phoenix, Arizona in March 2017.

His poetry is lyrical, but often complex rhythmically and structurally. David Kirby, writing in The New York Times Book Review notes that, "It isn't long before the ethereal quality of these poems begins to remind you of similar effects in the work of T.S. Eliot and the 17th century Anglo-Welsh mystic Henry Vaughan....In the midst of such questioning, the only reality is the poet's unflinchingly curious mind."[2] Noting the frequency and particularity of Gander's references to ecology and landscape, Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate, calls him "a Southern poet of a relatively rare kind, a restlessly experimental writer."[3] Gander's book Core Samples from the World was a finalist for 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award. The Pulitzer citation notes that Core Samples from the World is "A compelling work that explores cross-cultural tensions in the world and digs deeply to identify what is essential in human experience."[4] With Australian poet-activist John Kinsella, Gander wrote the cross-genre book Redstart: an Ecological Poetics.

The subjects of Gander's formally innovative essays range from snapping turtles to translation to literary hoaxes. His critical essays have appeared in The Nation, Boston Review, and The New York Times Book Review.

In 2008, New Directions published As a Friend, Gander's novel of a gifted man, a land surveyor, whose impact on those around him provokes an atmosphere of intense self-examination and eroticism. In The New York Times Book Review, Jeanette Winterson praised As a Friend as "a strange and beautiful novel.... haunting and haunted."[5] As a Friend has been published in translation in Bulgarian, Spanish, French, Turkish, and German editions. In 2014, New Directions released Gander's second novel The Trace, about a couple who, researching the last journey of Civil War writer Ambrose Bierce, find themselves lost in the Chihuahua Desert. The New Yorker called it a "carefully crafted novel of intimacy and isolation."[6] And in The Paris Review, Robyn Creswell commented that "Gander’s landscapes are lyrical and precise ("raw gashed mountains, gnarly buttes of andesite"), and his study of a marriage on the rocks is as empathetic as it is unsparing."[7]\

Gander is a translator with a particular interest in poetry from Spain, Latin America, and Japan. Besides editing several anthologies of poetry from Spain, Mexico, and Latin America, Gander has translated distinct volumes by Mexican poets Pura López Colomé, Coral Bracho (PEN Translation Finalist for Firefly Under the Tongue), Valerie Mejer Caso, and Alfonso D'Aquino, another poet connected with ecopoetry.[8] With Kyoko Yoshida, Gander translated Spectacle & Pigsty: Selected Poems of Kiwao Nomura (OmniDawn, 2011), winner of the 2012 Best Translated Book Award;[9] in 2016, New Directions published Alice Iris Red Horse, selected poems of Yoshimasu Gozo, edited by Gander. The second book of his translations, with Kent Johnson, of Bolivian poet Jaime Saenz, The Night (Princeton, 2007), received a PEN Translation Award. Gander's critically acclaimed translations of the Chilean Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda are included in The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights, 2004).

In 2016, Copper Canyon Press released "Then Come Back: the Lost Neruda," a bilingual edition of Gander's translations of twenty previously unknown and unseen Neruda poems.[10][11]

Collaborations and editorial workEdit

Exploring engagements with others in collaborations, Gander has worked with artists Ann Hamilton and Gus Van Sant, photographers Lucas Foglia, Sally Mann, Graciela Iturbide, Peter Lindbergh, Michael Flomen, and Raymond Meeks, ceramic artists Ashwini Bhat and Richard Hirsch, dancers Eiko & Koma, painter Tjibbe Hooghiemstra, glass artist Michael Rogers, musicians Vic Chesnutt and Brady Earnhart, and others.

With CD Wright, Gander co-edited Lost Roads Publishers for twenty years, soliciting, editing, and publishing books by more than thirty writers, including Michael Harper, Kamau Brathwaite, Arthur Sze, Fanny Howe, Steve Stern, Josie Foo, Frances Mayes, and Zuleyka Benitez.

Selected publicationsEdit

Poetry Collections



Collaborative Works

  • Redstart: An Ecological Poetics (University of Iowa Press, 2012) collaboration with John Kinsella. ISBN 9781609381196, OCLC 897201156
  • Las Canchas (Blue Star Contemporary, 2009), collaboration with photographer Daniel Borris.
  • Twelve X 12:00 (Philip Elchers, 2003), collaboration with artist Tjibbe Hooghiemstra.
  • Sound of Summer Running (Nazraeli Press, 2005), collaboration with photographer Raymond Meeks.

Essay Collections

  • A Faithful Existence: Reading, Memory and Transcendence (Counterpoint, 2005).

In Translation

  • El Rastro. Spanish translation of The Trace. (Sexto Piso, Mexico City & Barcelona, 2016).
  • Le Trace. French translation of The Trace. (Sabine Wespieser Editeur, Paris, 2016).
  • Eiko & Koma y otros poemas. Spanish translation of selected poems. (Libros Magenta, Mexico D.F., 2016).
  • Como Amigo. Spanish translation of As a Friend. (Sexto Piso Editorial, Mexico City & Barcelona, 2013).
  • Ligaduras. A work of selected poems in Spanish translation. (Ventana Abierta Editorial, Santiago, Chile, 2011).
  • Als es dich gab. Roman. German translation of As a Friend. (Luxbooks, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2010).
  • Libreto para eros. A work of selected poems in Spanish translation. (Amargord, Madrid, 2010).
  • En Ami. French translation of As a Friend. (Sabine Wespieser Editeur, Paris, 2010).
  • Като приятел. Bulgarian translation of As a Friend. (Altera, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2010).


  • Love Me: French Poems by Alejandra Pizarnik (New Directions, 2018) with Patricio Ferrari.
  • Then Come Back : the Lost Neruda Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2016) ISBN 9781556594946, OCLC 920018894
  • Alice Iris Red Horse: Selected Poems of Gozo Yoshimasu (New Directions, 2016).
  • Berlin: Stories by Aleš Šteger (Counterpath Press, 2015) with Brian Henry & Aljaž Kovac.
  • Rain of the Future: Poems by Valerie Mejer Caso edited by CD Wright (Action Books, 2014).
  • Panic Cure: Poems from Spain for the 21st Century (Seismicity Editions in USA; Shearsman Editions in UK, 2013). ISBN 9780986017346, OCLC 887856580
  • fungus skull eye wing: selected poems of Alfonso D'Aquino (Copper Canyon, 2013).
  • Watchword, by Pura Lopez Colome (Wesleyan University Press, 2012).
  • Spectacle & Pigsty: Selected Poems of Kiwao Nomura (Omnidawn, 2011) with Kyoko Yoshida.
  • Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho (New Directions, 2008).
  • The Night: A Poem by Jaime Saenz (Princeton University Press, 2007) with Kent Johnson. ISBN 9780691124834, OCLC 65065407
  • No Shelter: Selected Poems of Pura Lopez Colome (Graywolf Press, 2002).
  • Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jaime Saenz (University of California Press, 2011) with Kent Johnson.

Anthologies Edited

  • Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America Selected by Raúl Zurita (Copper Canyon, 2013).
  • Panic Cure: Poems from Spain for the 21st Century (Seismicity Editions in USA; Shearsman Editions in UK, 2013).
  • Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico (Sarabande Books, 2006). ISBN 9781932511208, OCLC 61151490
  • Mouth to Mouth: Poems by Twelve Contemporary Mexican Women (Milkweed Editions, 1993). ISBN 9780915943715, OCLC 878430882

Awards and honorsEdit


The Forrest Gander papers at Yale University's Beinecke Library cover Gander's full writing life, and additions to the collection are regularly made by the author.[21]


External linksEdit