Donald Revell

(1954 / New York)

Biography of Donald Revell

Donald Revell poet

Born in the Bronx, Donald Revell received his PhD at SUNY Buffalo and is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, translations, and essays. His recent books include Drought-Adapted Vine (2015), Tantivy (2012), and the prose work, Essay: A Critical Memoir (2015). Steeped in the work of Henry David Thoreau and William Carlos Williams, Revell’s poetry is “seriously Christian but not doctrinaire, mystical without setting intellect aside, angry over political matters without ever growing stale or shrill, and more often joyful than any other living poet of his powers,” observes critic Stephen Burt, noting that in A Thief of Strings (2007) Revell “may have constructed the only language of ecstasy that makes sense for our secular, self-doubting age.”

Since his first collection, From Abandoned Cities (1983), a National Poetry Series winner, Revell’s poetry has moved toward a yearning for transparency and innocence. Although Revell was originally a formalist poet, his more recent work tends to be in free verse and aims, in his words, “to make something out of words through which meaning can pass without impediment and without significant loss of energy.” As he teaches his students, “Craft is nothing. Sincerity is everything.”

His awards include two Pushcart Prizes, two Shestack Prizes, the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry, two PEN Center USA Awards in poetry, and fellowships from the NEA, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

After editing the Denver Quarterly from 1988 to 1994, Revell joined the Colorado Review as poetry editor in 1995. He has taught at the Universities of Tennessee, Denver, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, Utah, and Nevada-Las Vegas.

Revell lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife, poet Claudia Keelan.

PoemHunter.com Updates

Against Pluralism

Who will you point to? In the needle's eye,
or selling what you won at the strait gate,
who will know how to kiss you and just when
to pull the hair at your neck and say your name?
No single victim will ever be the last.
Not, at least, until one victim purifies
the whole issue of suffering
by crying out that his pain means nothing
because it comes from nowhere and goes nowhere.

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