Director of Writing Programs; Professor of Writing
PhD, English Romanticism, Harvard University
Born in Boston, he is a poet, biographer, cultural critic, and editor who received his Ph.D. in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard. His most recent books are the poetry collection Hollywood & God, which was selected one of the top five poetry books of the year by Barnes and Noble, The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber (editor) and David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and '50s (editor). His other books include Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award and an Edgar; Doubles (a book of poems); A Reader's Guide to James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover; and At the Titan's Breakfast: Three Essays on Byron's Poetry. He is also the editor Library of America volumes Crime Novels: American Noir of the 30s and 40s, Crime Novels: American Noir of the 50s, and The Selected Poems of Kenneth Fearing, as well as the editor of The Everyman James M. Cain and The Everyman Dashiell Hammett. His essays and poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, and Best American Film Writing, and numerous literature, film, and music anthologies, including Poems of New York, O.K. You Mugs, 110 Stories: New York Writers After September 11, The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan, and This Is Pop: In Search of the Elusive at The Experience Music Project. He contributed catalog essays to Manny Farber: About Face, and Patricia Patterson: Here and There, Back and Forth. His work also has been published in many magazines, including The New Yorker, Harpers, The Yale Review, Art Forum, Bookforum, Black Clock, The LA Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The Poetry Foundation Website, LIT, BOMB, Open City, Ploughshares, The New York Times Book Review, AGNI, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. Polito judges the annual Graywolf Nonfiction Book Prize, and has received fellowships from the Ingram Merrill and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundations. He is a contributing editor at BOMB, Fence, LIT, and The Boston Review, and serves on the advisory boards of Cave Canem and the Flow Chart Foundation. He has previously taught at Harvard, Wellesley, and New York University. At the New School, Polito is the founding Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing, and the originator (with Len Riggio) of the Len and Louise Riggio Writing & Democracy Program and of ASHLAB, a digital mapping project involving John Ashbery's Hudson, New York house and his poetry. Current book project: Detours: Seven Noir Lives (forthcoming Knopf).
Workshops in poetry and nonfictionLiterature seminars