Willis Barnstone, born in Lewiston, Maine, and educated at Bowdoin, the Sorbonne, SOAS, Columbia and Yale, taught in Greece at the end of the civil war (1949-51), in Buenos Aires during the Dirty War, and during the Cultural Revolution he went to China where he was later a Fulbright Professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University (1984-1985). Former O’Connor Professor of Greek at Colgate University, he is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University. He divides his time between Bloomington, Indiana, and Oakland, California.
His publications include Modern European Poetry (Bantam, 1967), The Other Bible (HarperCollins, 1984), Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, Practice (Yale, 1993), Funny Ways of Staying Alive (New England, 1993), The Secret Reader • 501 Sonnets (New England, 1996), With Borges on an Ordinary Evening in Buenos Aires (Illinois, 1993), Algebra of Night: Selected Poems 1948-1998 (Sheep Meadow, 1999), The Apocalypse (New Directions, 2000), Border of a Dream: Poems of Antonio Machado (Copper Canyon, 2004), The Gnostic Bible (Shambhala, 2004), and We Jews and Blacks: Memoir with Poems (Indiana). His literary translation of The New Covenant: The Four Gospels and Apocalypse (Penguin Putnam, 2002) was an April Book of the Month selection.
A Guggenheim fellow, he has been the recipient of many awards over the years, including NEA, NEH, Emily Dickinson Award of the Poetry Society of America, W. H. Auden Award of the New York State Council on the Arts, the Midland Authors Award, Book of the Month selections in 1972, 1989, 2002, 2004, and Pulitzer nominations in 1960, 1997, 1999, 2003. His work has appeared in magazines including APR, Doubletake, Harper’s, New York Review of Books, Paris Review, Poetry, New Yorker and Times Literary Supplement. He is a director of From the Fishouse.