“Should I fear scissors or love them? Both, if I am a paper doll, or an artist who works in paper. (How much of my old self would I ever want to cut out?)”—Steph Burt
“One of the most influential poetry critics of his generation.”—The New York Times
“[The Poem is You] is a splendid book. Many critics and poets have published essays or reviews of contemporary poetry, but Burt is doing something else here. He lavishes the poems with extraordinarily nimble, alert, luminous attention. It’s hard to think of a better introduction to contemporary American poetry.”—Jahan Ramazani
“Burt, the finest critic of his generation, has struck out on his own. It is time now to celebrate Burt’s other real work.”—Lucie Brock-Broido
Stephen Burt is a transgender poet, literary critic, and an English professor at Harvard University who also goes by Steph and Stephanie. Burt's works of criticism include The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them; Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Art of the Sonnet, written with David Mikics; The Forms of Youth: 20th-Century Poetry and Adolescence; Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden, written with Hannah Brooks-Motl; and Randall Jarrell and His Age.
Burt has published three collections of poems: Belmont, Parallel Play, and Popular Music. In October of 2017, Graywolf Press will publish Advice from the Lights, a new collection that finds the poet recalling “My 1982” and other specific childhood years.
In 2012, the New York Times Magazine ran a profile with the headline "Poetry’s Cross-Dressing Kingmaker," identifying Burt publicly for the first time as transgender. Burt—who answers to Stephen, Steph, and Stephanie—has since written about having two genders in poetry works such as the chapbook "All-Season Stephanie," as well as in essays such as “My Life as a Girl” and “The Body of the Poem.”
Burt, whose essays and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Review, and other publications, grew up in and around Washington, D.C., attended Harvard, Oxford, and Yale in the late 1980s and ’90s, and taught at Macalester College in Saint Paul for seven years before returning to Massachusetts and settling there.
Randall Jarrell and His Age (2002)
The Forms of Youth: Twentieth-Century Poetry and Adolescence (2007)
Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (2009)
The Art of the Sonnet (2010)
The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them (2016)
Popular Music (1999)
Parallel Play (2006)
Advice from the Lights (2017)