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Kevin Prufer

MFA in Creative Writing Faculty


Keven Prufer teaches in the Poetry genre of the MFA in Creative Writing program.

"Like other art forms, poetry at its best is a kind of complex communication—a way one mind speaks to a multitude of minds, many of them not yet born. What attracts me to poetry particularly is not merely the way it compresses or asserts meaning, but the way a poem can hold multiple, often conflicting, meanings. The poems I admire are frequently born out of ambivalence—out of strong feelings or beliefs in conflicting directions. These poems ask difficult, vital human questions, but their object is not necessarily to answer these questions. They are, in fact, often unanswerable. Instead, they think about them with purpose and complexity, helping us reformulate them for ourselves."

Although Kevin loves to talk about the technical aspects of poetry writing—rhyme, meter, image, tone—Kevin generally approaches drafts of student poems with these 3 questions:

  1. What questions is this poem engaged with?
  2. How does it go about trying to think about these questions?
  3. How might it do so more successfully?

Connect with Kevin through his website.


Books of Poetry

  • The Art of Fiction (2021)
  • How He Loved Them (2018)
  • Churches (2014)
  • In a Beautiful Country (2011)
  • National Anthem (2008)
  • Fallen from a Chariot (2005)
  • The Finger Bone (2002)
  • Strange Wood (1998)

Editor of anthologies, including:

  • New European Poets
  • New Young American Poets
  • Into English: Poems, Essays, Commentaries
  • Literary Publishing in the 21st-Century


  • Julie Suk Award
  • 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry long-list
  • Prairie Schooner/Strousse Award
  • William Rockhill Nelson Award
  • Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation
  • Four Pushcart prizes
  • Three Best American Poetry selections
  • Numerous awards from the Poetry Society of America


  • University of Houston Creative Writing Program
  • Co-Curator of the Unsung Masters Series
  • Editor-at-Large of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing
  • Former Vice President of the National Book Critics Circle


Graduate degrees from Hollins University and Washington University
BA, College of Letters at Wesleyan University