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Robert Farnsworth grew up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and earned degrees from Brown (A.B. English ’76) and Columbia Universities (M.F.A. School of the Arts, ’79)
As an undergraduate and graduate student he studied with Edwin Honig, Michael Harper, Stanley Plumly, Philip Levine, Daniel Halpern, Carol Muske-Dukes, and Derek Walcott, who helped him broaden and hone his poetic tastes and experience. Reconciling distance with detail, intimacy with larger comprehensions, the habitual with the strange or exotic, the personal voice with the ‘other voice’ of mask and allusion have always been vital impulses in his writing. (Read and listen to a selection of Farnsworth’s poems at From the Fishhouse.org.)
Farnsworth’s poetry has appeared widely in magazines across the U.S., in Canada and the UK, including the Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Michigan Quarterly, Ploughshares, Tri-Quarterly, The American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Malahat Review, Poetry & Audience, etc.. He published two collections from Wesleyan University Press: Three or Four Hills and A Cloud(1982) and Honest Water (1989), and most recently, Rumored Islands (2010) from Harbor Mountain Press. (Review)
For seven years (1998-2005) he edited poetry for the national quarterly The American Scholar, and in the summer of 2006 was honored to be the resident poet at in Franconia, NH, an organization he now serves as a member of the board of trustees, and in 2011 as faculty for the annual Festival and Conference in Poetry. Over the years, Farnsworth’s work has won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry and a P.E.N. Discovery citation.
Twice recipient of Bates’ Kroepsch Award for excellence in teaching, he has taught writing and literature in the SUNY system, at U.C. Irvine, Ithaca College, Colby College, and for the past twenty-one years at Bates. In 1991, in collaboration with his English department colleagues, he founded the concentration in creative writing, and the reading series now called Language Arts Live. He lives a few blocks from the college with his wife Georgia Nigro of the Bates Psychology Department, their two sons, and two Chinooks.