Anne Carson

Anne Carson (born June 21, 1950) is a Canadian poet, essayist, translator, and professor of Classics. Carson lived in Montreal for several years and taught at McGill University,[1] the University of Michigan,[2] and at Princeton University from 1980 to 1987.[3] She was a 1998 Guggenheim Fellow,[4] and in 2000 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She has also won a Lannan Literary Award.[5]

Anne Carson
Born (1950-06-21) June 21, 1950
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
  • Poetry
  • essay
Notable worksAutobiography of Red
SpouseRobert Currie

Life and work


In high school, a Latin instructor introduced Carson to the world and language of Ancient Greece and tutored her privately.[6] Enrolling at St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, she left twice—at the end of her first and second years. Carson, disconcerted by curricular constraints (particularly by a required course on Milton), retired to the world of graphic arts for a short time.[6] She did eventually return to the University of Toronto where she completed her B.A. in 1974, her M.A. in 1975, and her Ph.D. in 1981.[7] She also spent a year studying Greek metrics and Greek textual criticism at the University of St Andrews.[8]


A professor of the classics, with background in classical languages, comparative literature, anthropology, history, and commercial art, Carson blends ideas and themes from many fields in her writing. She is influenced by Ancient Greek literature, Sappho, Simone Weil, Homer, Virginia Woolf, Emily Brontë, and Thucydides. She frequently references, modernizes, and translates Ancient Greek literature. She has published twenty books as of 2016, most of which blend the forms of poetry, essay, prose, criticism, translation, dramatic dialogue, fiction, and non-fiction.

Carson was an Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany, for Fall 2007. The Classic Stage Company, a New York–based theatre company, produced three of Carson's translations: Aeschylus' Agamemnon; Sophocles' Electra; and Euripides' Orestes (as An Oresteia), in repertory, in the 2008/2009 season. From 2010 to 2016, Carson was an Andrew Dickson White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University.[9] She is Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at New York University[10] and was a judge for the 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize.

She also participated in the Bush Theatre's project Sixty Six Books (October 2011), for which she had written a piece entitled Jude: The Goat at Midnight based upon the Epistle of Jude from the King James Bible.[11] Once every year, Carson and her husband, Robert Currie, teach a class called Egocircus about the art of collaboration at New York University.[12] On November 16, 2012, Carson received an honorary degree from the University of Toronto.[13] Carson delivered a series of "short talks", or short-format poems on various subjects, as the address to the Ph.D. graduating class of 2012.

Anne Carson's 2013 book Red Doc> was reviewed by Kathryn Schulz as,

a sequel of sorts to Autobiography of Red, which was a sequel of sorts to a poem by Stesichoros […]. In Greek myth, a monster named Geryon lived on a red island and tended a herd of coveted red cattle; slaying the monster and stealing the cattle was the tenth of the twelve labors of Herakles […]. The tale was set down by Hesiod and others almost 3,000 years ago […]. What Red Doc> is greater than is the sum of its parts. This is Carson's obsession, and her gift: to make meaning from the fragments we get, which are also all we get -- of time, of the past, of each other. It doesn't last, of course; the arrow of gravity, like the arrow of time, points only in one direction. Still, for a moment, she gets it all to hang together up there, the joy made keener by the coming fall. Sad but great: In the end it seemed to me that Carson had found the proper name for everything -- her character, this book, this life.[14]

She received the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize for Red Doc> and is recognized as a major 21st century poet.

In 2015, her translation of Sophocles' tragedy Antigone (Sophocles play) was performed in Luxembourg and at the Barbican Centre. The production was directed by Ivo van Hove and starred Juliette Binoche.[15]

Eros the Bittersweet

In 1986, Carson published her first book, Eros the Bittersweet. Named one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time by the Modern Library, the book traces the concept of "eros" in ancient Greece through its representations in poetry of the time. Carson considers seriously how triangular and mimetic desires have been represented in the poetry of Sappho, as well as the relationship of eros to solitude. Famously, Carson analyzes Sappho's Fragment 31 as representing "eros as deferred, defied, obstructed, hungry, organized around a radiant absence - to represent eros as lack."[16]

Selected awards and honors


  • Carson, Anne (1981). Odi et amo ergo sum (Thesis (Ph.D.)). University of Toronto.
  • (1986). Eros the bittersweet. Princeton University Press.
  • Short Talks (1992) Brick Books[20]
  • Glass, Irony, and God (1995) New Directions Publishing Company
  • Plainwater (1995) Knopf
  • Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse (1998) Knopf
  • Economy of the Unlost: Reading Simonides of Ceos with Paul Celan (1999) Princeton University Press
  • Electra (translation) (2001) Oxford
  • Men in the Off Hours (2001) Knopf
  • The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos (2001) Knopf
  • If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (2002) Knopf
  • Wonderwater (Alice Offshore) (volume two, Answer Scars, a collaboration with Roni Horn) (2004) Steidl
  • Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera (2005) Knopf
  • Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides (translation) (2006) New York Review Books Classics
  • An Oresteia (Translation of Agamemnon, Elektra, Orestes.) (2009) Faber and Faber
  • NOX (2010) New Directions, incorporating Catullus 101 of Catullus
  • Antigonick (2012) New Directions
  • Red Doc> (2013) Knopf, a direct sequel to her first poetic novel Autobiography of Red.
  • Iphigenia among the Taurians (translation) (2014) University of Chicago Press
  • The Albertine Workout (2014) New Directions Poetry Pamphlet #13
  • Nay Rather (2014) The Cahiers Series, Cahier 21
  • Float (2016) Knopf
  • Bakkhai (2017) New Directions (translation of The Bacchae by Euripides)
List of poems
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
The Glass Essay 1997? Carson, Ann [sic]; Kay Adshead & Bridget Meeds (1997). Wild workshop. London: Faber and Faber.
Short talk on herbology 2013 Carson, Anne (April 22, 2013). "Short talk on herbology". The New Yorker. 89 (10): 104.
Pronoun envy 2014 Carson, Anne (February 10, 2014). "Pronoun envy". The New Yorker. 89 (48): 48–49.
Saturday night as an adult 2017 Carson, Anne (May 1, 2017). "Saturday night as an adult". The New Yorker. 93 (11): 50.
Clive Song 2017 Carson, Anne (August 7, 2017). "Clive Song". The New Yorker: 54–55.
Longing, a Documentary: Shot List 2000 Carson, Anne (Winter 2000). "Longing, a Documentary: Shot List". The Threepenny Review p22.

See also


  1. "McGill News - Winter '97". Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  2. "Penn Humanities Forum | Anne Carson". 2009-12-02. Archived from the original on 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  3. "Anne Carson- - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More". 1950-06-21. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  4. "Anne Carson - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  5. "Lannan Foundation - Anne Carson". 2001-03-21. Archived from the original on 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  6. "Anne Carson, online biography".
  7. "Classic Carson". Val Ross. "University of Toronto Magazine". Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2018-06-09.
  8. "Scottish Review of Books".
  9. "All Professors at Large 1965 to June 30, 2023". Cornell University. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  10. "NYU > CWP > Anne Carson, Charles Simic Join Faculty". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  12. Anderson, Sam. "The Inscrutable Brilliance of Anne Carson." The New York Times. March 17, 2013, p. MM20.
  14. Schulz, Katryn (2013). Red Shift. New York magazine, 11 March 2013, pp 117-121.
  15. Sophocles (2015). Antigone. London: Oberon Classics. p. 11. ISBN 9781783198108.
  16. Carson, Anne (1986-01-01). Eros the Bittersweet. Dalkey Archive Press. ISBN 9781564781888.
  17. "The 2014 Folio Prize Shortlist is Announced". Folio Prize. 10 February 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  18. Gaby Wood (10 February 2014). "Folio Prize 2013: The Americans are coming, but not the ones we were expecting". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  20. "Auden's Opposite". The Walrus, Walrus Foundation, October 2016, pages 67-69 (3 page feature article)
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