Lynn Keller

Professor (Martha Meier Renk-Bascom Professor of Poetry)
7195F Helen C. White Hall
E-mail Lynn Keller
American poetry since 1950, recent experimental poetries and poetics, poetry and ecocriticism


Degrees and Institutions

MA & PhD, University of Chicago
BA, Stanford University

Selected Publications

  • Recomposing Ecopoetics: North American Poetry of the Self-Conscious Anthropocene (Virginia, forthcoming 2017)
  • Thinking Poetry: Readings in Contemporary Women's Exploratory Poetics (Iowa, 2010)
  • Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women (Chicago, 1997) 
  • edited with Cristanne Miller, Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory (Michigan, 1994) 
  • Re-making It New: Contemporary American Poetry and the Modernist Tradition (Cambridge, 1987) 
  • articles in edited collections, including, recently, an essay in The News from Poems: Essays on the 21st-Century American Poetry of Engagement and "Green Reading" in The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, as well as articles in such journals as American Literature, Contemporary Literature, Arizona Quarterly, ISLE, Jacket2, and Journal of Modern Literature on poetry by Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Rosmarie Waldrop, Joan Retallack, Alice Fulton, C.D. Wright, Cole Swensen, Susan Wheeler, Myung Mi Kim, Forrest Gander, Evelyn Reilly, Ed Roberson, Juliana Spahr, and others.


Research Interests

North American poetry since 1950, especially women's poetry and experimental poetries of recent decades; American long poems; visual poetics; poetry and environmental criticism.

Current Projects

I have recently completed a a book on experimental ecopoetics, focusing on work by a dozen contemporary North American poets who address current environmental issues.,.With Alan Golding and Adalaide Morrie, I edit the University of Iowa Press Series on Contemporary North American Poetry. I currently direct the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies here at the UW-Madison.

Personal Statement

While I was trained as an Americanist and teach a range of American twentieth- and twenty-first-century courses on the undergraduate level, my research interests are generically focused: I study poetry almost exclusively. My early scholarship dealt with the relationship between modernist and contemporary or postmodernist poetry, but after the publication of my first book I focused on poetry written since the 1970s, especially on women's writing and feminist poetries in the U.S. While linguistically innovative work has been at the center of my recent research, I am committed to reading broadly in the field of contemporary poetry and to cultivating in my students the varied reading skills necessary to appreciate varied poetics. My recently completed book and my current research reflect my interest in integrating my knowledge of contemporary poetry with my interests in environmentalism; I am now working in the field of ecocriticism and studying twenty-first-century experimental ecopoetics.

Graduate Teaching

I regularly teach graduate surveys of poetry movements in the U.S. since the middle of the 20th century, as well as more specialized courses devoted to such topics as the long poem; experimental poetries and poetics; or recent ecopoetics and ecocriticism. I have also taught Environmental Studies 900, the Interdisciplinary Methods Course required for graduate students earning a certificate in the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE).

Recent Books

  • Book Cover for "Thinking Poetry"

    Thinking Poetry: Readings in Contemporary Women's Exploratory Poetics

    Lynn Keller

    University of Iowa Press


    Thinking Poetry examines approaches to women’s poetic exploration ranging from radically open, thoroughly disjunctive writing to feminist experimentation within relatively conventional free verse forms; from texts testing the resources of visual elements and page space to those in which multilingualism or digital technology provide arenas for innovation; from revitalized forms of ekphrasis to fresh approaches to pop culture.

  • Book Cover for "Forms of Expansion"

    Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women

    Lynn Keller

    University of Chicago Press


    Expanding the boundaries of both genre and gender, contemporary American women are writing long poems in a variety of styles that repossess history, reconceive female subjectivity, and revitalize poetry itself. In the first book devoted to long poems by women, Lynn Keller explores this rich and evolving body of work, offering revealing discussions of the diverse traditions and feminist concerns addressed by poets ranging from Rita Dove and Sharon Doubiago to Judy Grahn and Susan Howe.

  • Book Cover for "Feminist Measures"

    Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory

    Lynn Keller & Cristanne Miller, Eds.

    University of Michigan Press


    Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory breaks new ground in postmodern literary theory, including feminist theory, by moving the focus away from narrative fiction and onto poetry. The book responds to the need for more adequately theorized approaches to poetic literature by bringing together new, previously unpublished essays by fourteen accomplished critics.

  • Book Cover for "Re-Making It New"

    Re-Making It New: Contemporary American Poetry and the Modernist Tradition

    Lynn Keller

    Cambridge University Press


    As a tradition modernism has fostered particularly polarised impulses - though the great modernist poems offer impressive models, modernist principles, epitomised in Ezra Pound's exhortation to 'make it new', encourage poets to reject the methods of their immediate predecessors. Re-making it New explores the impact of this polarised tradition on contemporary American poets by examining the careers of John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Creeley and James Merrill.