Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Reginald Gibbons  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Poetry

Born: January 7, 1947 in Houston, Texas

-- Reginald Gibbons' blog on poetry at the Center for the Writing Arts (Northwestern University) --
-- Gibbons faculty page at Northwestern University --
-- Website --
-- Reginald Gibbons on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Reginald has lived in Evanston, Illinois, since 1981.

Biographical and Professional Information

Reginald Gibbons is a poet, translator, fiction writer, essayist and editor. He was born in Houston, Texas and grew up there, studied at Princeton University (BA in Spanish and Portuguese) and at Stanford University (MA in English and Creative Writing and PhD in Comparative Literature). From 1981 to 1997 he was the editor of ''TriQuarterly'' magazine at Northwestern University, where he also founded TriQuarterly Books (later an imprint of Northwestern University Press) and published special issues of ''TriQuarterly'' containing new writing from Chicago, Poland, Spain, South Africa and Mexico. Since 1981 he has taught writing and literature courses at Northwestern, where he is a professor in the Departments of English and Classics. He founded the MA/MFA in Creative Writing at Northwestern's School of Continuing Studies. In 1989, he co-founded the Guild Complex, a not-for-profit literary center in Chicago, in 1989, and since 1984 he has also taught in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. His literary honors include the O. B. Hardison, Jr., Poetry Prize (awarded by the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2004) and a Guggenheim Fellowship; his collection of poems ''Creatures of a Day'' was a Finalist for the 2008 National Book Award.Gibbons has edited and translated several books. His edited works include: ''The writer in our World'', ''The Poets Work'', ''New Writing From Mexico'' and ''Goyen: Autobriographical Essays, Notebooks, Evocations, Interviews''. He also edited ''Thomas McGrath: Life and the Poem'' with Terrance Des Pres. His translations include: ''Selected Poems of Luis Cernuda'', ''Bakkhai'' by Euripides - with Charles Segal, ''Antigone'' by Sphocles - also with Charles Segal and ''Selected Poems: Odes and Fragments'' by Sophocles.

Published Works

  • Roofs Voices Roads, 1979
  • The Ruined Motel, 1981
  • Saints, 1986
  • Five Pears or Peaches: Stories, Broken Moon Press, 1991
  • Maybe It Was So, University of Chicago Press, 1991
  • William Goyen: A Study of the Short Fiction, Twayne/ G. K. Hall, 1991
  • Sweetbitter, Louisiana State University Press, 1995 - reprinted in 2003
  • Sparrow: New and Selected Poems, Louisiana State University Press, 1997
  • Homage to Longshot O'Leary, Holy Cow! Press, 1999
  • It's Time: Poems , Louisiana State University Press, 2002
  • In the Warhouse, Fractal Edge Press , 2004
  • Fern-texts, Hollyridge Press , 2005
  • Creatures of a Day, Louisiana State University Press, 2008
  • Slow Trains Overhead: Chicago Poems and Stories, University of Chicago Press, 2010
  • ''Desde una barca de papel (bilingual edition with translations into Spanish), Littera Libros (Spain), 2010

Selected Titles At Your Library

The ruined motel :
ISBN: 039531660X. OCLC Number:

. .

Saints :
ISBN: 0892551062. OCLC Number:

Persea Books,. New York :. ©1986.

Five pears or peaches :
ISBN: 0913089230. OCLC Number:

Broken Moon Press,. Seattle :. ©1991.

Maybe it was so /
ISBN: 0226290557. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 1991.

William Goyen :
ISBN: 0805783083. OCLC Number:

Twayne Publishers,. Boston :. 1991.

Sweetbitter :
ISBN: 0807128716. OCLC Number:

Louisiana State University Press,. Baton Rouge :. 2003.

"Reginald Gibbons's first novel takes place in east Texas in 1910 during the time of white rule — not by law but by lynch mob. Amid the suffocating racism and fear, half-Choctaw, half-white Reuben Sweetbitter and Martha Clarke, a white woman, fall in love. . . . Reuben and Martha's love is strong, but, dishearteningly, racism is stronger. Timely in the subject of interracial love, this authentic, richly detailed novel plumbs sacrifice, fear, and the loss of one’s identity, bringing the anguish of the two young lovers to life. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

Sparrow :
ISBN: 0807122327. OCLC Number:

Louisiana State University Press,. Baton Rouge :. 1997.

Homage to Longshot O'Leary :
ISBN: 0930100859. OCLC Number:

Holy Cow! Press,. Duluth, Minn. :. 1999.

It's time :
ISBN: 0807128147. OCLC Number:

Louisiana State University Press,. Baton Rouge :. 2002.

Presents twenty-nine poems by American writer Reginald Gibbons, covering such themes as love, destructiveness, and the exploration of language.

Fern-texts :
ISBN: 0977229831. OCLC Number:

Hollyridge Press,. Venice, Calif. :. ©2005.

Creatures of a day :
ISBN: 0807133183. OCLC Number:

Louisiana State University Press,. Baton Rouge :. ©2008.

In Creatures of a Day, Reginald Gibbons presents intense encounters with everyday people amidst the historical and social contexts of everyday life. His poems are meditations on memory, obligation, love, death, celebration, and sorrow. Some of them show how the making of poetry itself seems inextricably enmeshed with personal encounter and with history. This new collection includes five odes woven from interactions with others, thirteen shorter poems, and "Fern-Texts," a kind of biographical and autobiographical essay in syllabic verse on the parallel decades of the English 1790s and the American 1960s. Using quotations from the notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Fern-Texts" interweaves the dilemmas of love, ethics, and political engagement in Coleridge's life when he was in his twenties and in the poet's own life when, at the same age, he lived in California. Ranging from poems of witness to paradoxical speculations, from the personal intimacy of love and death to the broad scope of historical turmoil, Creatures of a Day is an unusual, powerful collection.

Slow trains overhead :
ISBN: 0226290581. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 2010.

Few people writing today could successfully combine an intimate knowledge of Chicago with a poet's eye, and capture what it's really like to live in this remarkable city. Embracing a striking variety of human experience--a chance encounter with a veteran on Belmont Avenue, the grimy majesty of the downtown El tracks, domestic violence in a North Side brownstone, the wide-eyed wonder of new arrivals at O'Hare, and much more--these new and selected poems and stories by Reginald Gibbons celebrate the heady mix of elation and despair that is city life. With Slow Trains Overhead, he has rendered a li.


  • National Book Award Finalist (poetry)

    2008 (

    Creatures of a Day


  • O. B. Hardison, Jr., Poetry Prize 2004 (from the Folger Shakespeare Library)

  • Balcones Poetry Prize 1998 (
  • Sparrow

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)