Biography of Robin Becker
Robin Becker (born 1951) is an American poet, critic, feminist, and professor. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is author of seven collections of poetry, most recently, Tiger Heron and Domain of Perfect Affection (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014 and 2006). Her All-American Girl (University of Pittsburgh Press), won the 1996 Lambda Literary Award in Poetry. Becker earned a B.A. in 1973 and an M.A. from Boston University in 1976. She resides in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania and spends her summers in southern New Hampshire.
Becker taught for seventeen years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently and is Professor of English and Women's Studies at Pennsylvania State University, where she has taught since 1993. She also teaches workshops such as those at the Summer Program Poetry Workshops at The Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Literary Influences & Praise
“Becker grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories, learning from her the nuances of storytelling and her family’s history in Ukraine. Becker was also greatly influenced by the women writers whose poetry was available in the 1970s, including Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Maxine Kumin, Denise Levertov, and Susan Griffin. “
Her first two books were published by Alice James Books, the first in 1977, Personal Effects (a three-poet anthology, including Robin Becker, Helena Minton and Marilyn Zuckerman), which makes her one of the earliest cooperative members of the press, which was founded in 1973, so it seems fitting that Ed Ochester has said that "Robin is one of the most varied of the poets on the Pitt list in her style and subject matter--and the foremost feminist poet of her generation.”
In her biography of Robin Becker, Heidi Ogrodnek writes, “She is known for her work in Lesbian and Gay studies and served as visiting scholar at the Center for Lesbian and Gay studies at the CUNY in 1998. She has said, 'Feminist scholarship and Gay and Lesbian poetry have provided me with the tools with which to work.' Her collections of poetry develop precise, delicate imagery and… depict her own transition from girlhood to womanhood… Maxine Kumin has also been a tremendous inspiration to Becker...[she] learned that 'woman poets could celebrate their lives and not position themselves as victims in every story.' "
Her poems, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications including Slate The American Poetry Review, The Boston Globe, Gettysburg Review, AGNI, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Best American Poetry 2008. She has published book reviews in many venues, and writes a column on contemporary poetry called Field Notes for the Women's Review of Books, where she serves as Contributing and Poetry Editor. Her honors include fellowships from The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies of the City University of New York, The William Steeple Davis Foundation, the Mary Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation.
Robin Becker Poems
Yom Kippur, Taos, New Mexico
I've expanded like the swollen door in summer to fit my own dimension. Your loneliness is a letter I read and put away, a daily reminder in the cry of the magpie that I am
Great Sleeps I Have Known
Once in a cradle in Norway folded like Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir as a ship in full sail transported the dead to Valhalla