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Mark Irwin

Associate Professor of English

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 821-0477
Office: THH 431

Curriculum Vitae
Personal Website

Biographical Sketch

Mark Irwin is the author of nine collections of poetry, which include A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn: Selected Poems (2015), Large White House Speaking (2013), Tall If (2008), Bright Hunger (2004), White City (2000), Quick, Now, Always (1996), and Against the Meanwhile: Three Elegies (1988). He has also translated Philippe Denis’ Notebook of Shadows and Nichita Stanescu’s Ask the Circle to Forgive You: Selected Poems. Currently, he is working on a selected poems and letters of Arthur Rimbaud.  His poetry and essays have appeared in many literary magazines including The American Poetry Review, Agni Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Pleiades, Poetry, The Nation, New England Review, The New Republic, and The Southern Review. Recognition for his work includes The Nation/Discovery Award, four Pushcart Prizes, two Colorado Book Awards, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright, Lilly, and Wurlitzer Foundations. His critical book Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry will appear in 2017. 



Ph.D. English (1982), Case Western Reserve University

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Mark Irwin is a nationally acclaimed poet and four-time Pushcart Prize winner who has been described as a "descendant of William Carlos Williams and Hart Crane.” He is the author of six collections of poetry, and he has also translated several French and Romanian works. Irwin teaches undergraduate and graduate poetry workshops.

Research Keywords

Poetry & Originality: "Have you been there before? No, this is the first time." An essay that discusses geographers of the imagination: the work of John Ashbery, Ann Carson, Lydia Davis, Guy Davenport, Forrest Gander, Alice Notley, and W.S. Merwin, among others.

Research Specialties

Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry. (Forthcoming in 2017) Monster explores abstraction through spatial, temporal, and conceptual distortion and disjunction in contemporary American poetry, and references contemporary visual art as it argues that memorable and resonant poetry often distorts form, image, concept, and notions of truth and metaphor. Discussing how changes in electronic communication and artificial notions of landscape have impacted form and content in poetry, Monster redefines the idea of what is memorable and original through a broad range of poets including John Ashbery, Anne Carson, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Laura Kasischke, W.S. Merwin, Mary Ruefle, Arthur Sze, and James Tate. Considering the impact of myth on originality, the book’s final chapter views contemporary and modern poets through the lens of three archetypal figures: “Orpheus, Parzival, & Bartleby: Ways of Abstraction in Poetry.”

Conferences and Other Presentations

Conference Presentations

""Poetry & Place in a Placeless World of Global Communication"", AWP Conference / Seattle, Washington, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Seattle, AWP, Invited, 02/27/2014  
"Poetry & Place in the 21st Century", Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Roundtable/Panel, University of Southern Californis, LA Times, Invited, 04/20/2013  
"Poetry Reading", Ashland University Summer MFA Program, Lecture/Seminar, Paper, Ashland, Ohio, Ashland University, Invited, 07/23/2010-07/30/2010  
""Poetry & Memorability"", AWP Confernce, Roundtable/Panel, Paper, Denver Hilton, Associated Writing Programs, Norfolk, VA, Invited, 04/07/2010-04/10/2010  
""Poetry & Memorability in a Technological Age"", Association of Literary Scholars & Critics, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Denver, ALSC, Invited, 10/09/2009-10/11/2009  
"Poetry Reading", LA Times Book Festival, Los Angeles, CA, 04/28/2006-04/29/2006  
"Poetry Reading", Colorado, Longmont Museum, 03/15/2006  
""The Poetry of Jim Simmerman"", Associated Writing Programs Annual Conference, Lecture/Panel, Atlanta, 03/01/2006-03/03/2006  



Irwin, M. (2008). TALL IF. (Marianne Swierenga, William Olson, Ed.). Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University Press/New Issues Poetry & Prose.


Irwin, M. (2015). "Poetry & Originality: Have You Been There Before?". Norfolk, VA. AWP Journal.
Irwin, M. (2011). "Distortion & Disjunction in Contemporary American Poetry". (Berg, Bonanno, Scanlon, Ed.). pp. 27. Philadelphia, PA. The American Poetry Review.

Journal Article

Irwin, M. (2007). "Four Poems". TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press. pp. p.NA.
Irwin, M. (2006). "Sermon" Poem. Hawaii Pacific Review/University of Hawaii. pp. p. vol 20.
Irwin, M. (2006). "Czeslaw Milosz' Theater of Encounter" Essay. Lake Effect/Penn State University Press. pp. p. NA.
Irwin, M. (2006). Six Poems. Interim/University of Nevada. pp. p.NA.
Irwin, M. (2006). "Two Poems". American Poetry Review/Academic Press. pp.
Irwin, M. (2006). "Passing" Poem. American Literary Review/University of North Texas. pp. p.NA.
Irwin, M. (2006). "Summons" Poem. American Letters & Commentary. pp. p.NA.
Irwin, M. (2006). "Four Poems". LUNA/University of Minnesota. pp. p.NA.
Irwin, M. (2006). "Augenblick" Poem. Third Coast/Western Michigan University. pp. p.NA.

Poetry Collection

Irwin, M. (2008). TALL IF. (William Olsen, Ed.). pp. 73pp. Kalamazoo, MI. New Issues/ Western Michigan University Press.


Irwin, M. (2009). "Here" and "The Singular of Trees". (Paul Hoover, Ed.). pp. 2. San Francisco, CA. New American Writing.
Irwin, M. (2009). "In Winter" and "Red Feather". (David Baker, Ed.). pp. 3. Gambier, Ohio. Kenyon Review.
Irwin, M. (2009). "Ghost". (David Hamilton, Ed.). Iowa City, IA. Iowa Review.
Irwin, M. (2009). "On Sunday, Sometimes". (Sidney Wade, Ed.). Gainesville, FL University of Florida. subtropics.
Irwin, M. (2009). "Landscape with Horse Named Popcorn". (Christian Wiman, Ed.). pp. 1. Chicago, IL. Poetry Magazine.
Irwin, M. (2009). Two Poems: "Table of Contents," "Tell Me". (Sven Birkerts, Ed.). pp. 2. Boston University Boston, MA. AGNI REVIEW.
Irwin, M. (2008). "Empire". pp. 1. Chicago, IL. Poetry Magazine.

New Courses Developed

ENGL 456: Contemporary World Poetry in Translation & Translation Workshop, English/Creative Writing, 2009-2010   

Honors and Awards

USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, for "Tall If" (a collection of poetry), Spring 2010   
Mellon Mentoring Award for Graduate Students, 4/21/2009  
2006 Pushcart Prize for Poetry, 6/9/2006-12/30/2006  
Colorado Book Award for Poetry: BRIGHT HUNGER, 2005-2006   
Lois Beebe Hayna Award/Western Poetry Society, 2/12/2006  
Poem "Ends" featured on Poetry Daily, 1/25/2006  

Service to the Profession

Editorships and Editorial Boards

Contributing Editor, Hotel Amerika, 01/01/2005-01/01/2011  

Professional Memberships

(AWP) Association of Writers and Poets/Norfolk, VA, 09/09/2006-  
Poetry Society of America, 01/25/2004-  
Association of Literary Critics & Scholars, 2012-2013   
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