J. D. McClatchy

J. D. McClatchy's picture
Prof (Adj) English; Prof (Adj) English & Editor The Yale Review

J. D. McCLATCHY is the author of six collections of poems: Scenes From Another Life (Braziller, 1981), Stars Principal (Macmillan, 1986), The Rest of the Way (Knopf, 1990), Ten Commandments (Knopf, 1998), Hazmat (Knopf, 2002, a Pulitzer Prize finalist), and Mercury Dressing (Knopf, 2009). In addition, his selected poems, Division of Spoils, appeared in England in 2003. His literary essays are collected in White Paper (Columbia, 1989), which was given the Melville Cane Award by the Poetry Society of America, in Twenty Questions (Columbia, 1998), and in American Writers at Home (Vendome/Library of America, 2004; editions in French and German were also published). He has also edited several other books, including Seven Mozart Librettos (Norton, 2010), The Whole Difference: Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Princeton, 2008); The Four Seasons (Knopf, 2008); James Merrill’s Selected Poems (Knopf, 2008); Thornton Wilder’s Collected Plays & Writings on Theater (Library of America, 2007); Poets of the Civil War (Library of America, 2005); Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Selected Poems (Library of America, 2003); James Merrill’s Collected Prose (Knopf, 2004) as well as his Collected Novels and Plays (2002) and his Collected Poems (2001); Horace: The Odes (Princeton, 2002); Bright Pages: Yale Writers 1701-2001 (Yale, 2001); Poems of the Sea (Knopf, 2001); Love Speaks Its Name (Knopf, 2001); Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Poems and Other Writings (Library of America, 2000); On Wings of Song (Knopf, 2000); Christmas Poems (Knopf, 1999); The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry (Vintage, 1996); Woman in White: Poems by Emily Dickinson (Folio Society, 1991); The Vintage Books of Contemporary American Poetry (Vintage, 1990; revised edition, 2003); Poets on Painters (California, 1988); Recitative: Prose by James Merrill (North Point, 1986); and Anne Sexton: The Poet and Her Critics (Indiana, 1978). For Random House, he also edited the acclaimed The Voice of the Poet series of audiobooks, which includes the work of nineteen poets. In addition, he has published fiction and translations. His work appears regularly in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The New Republic, and many other magazines.

Mr. McClatchy has had a busy academic life as well. For many years has taught at Princeton, Yale, Columbia, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, and other universities, and is now Professor of English at Yale. Since 1991, he has served as editor of The Yale Review. In addition, he has an increasingly prominent role in the opera house as a librettist. He has written thirteen libretti–for William Schuman’s A Question of Taste (commissioned and premiered by the Glimmerglass Opera Theater in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1989, the next year produced at Lincoln Center by the Juilliard Opera Center, and recorded on Delos DE1030 ); for Francis Thorne’s Mario and the Magician (given its world premiere in 1994 by the Brooklyn College Opera Theater, and revived in 2005 by the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, recorded for Albany records, Troy 832); for Bruce Saylor’s Orpheus Descending (based on the Tennessee Williams play, commissioned by the Chicago Lyric Opera, premiered there in 1994, subsequently broadcast on NPR’s “World of Opera,” and revived in a new production at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, 2006); and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline (commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, premiered there in 1996, subsequently telecast on PBS’s “Great Performances,” revived at the New York City Opera in 1998, and recorded on the Albany label, Troy 264-65); for Lorin Maazel’s 1984, co-written with Thomas Meehan (premiered the Royal Opera House,  at Covent Garden in 2005, with subsequent performances at La Scala, Milan and in Valencia; new productions in New York, Hungary, and California; a DVD was released on Decca 074 3289); for Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts (commissioned for the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Juilliard School of Music and premiered there in 2006, with subsequent performances in Los Angeles and Cincinnati); for Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel, co-written with Julie Taymor (premiered at the Los Angeles Opera in 2006, with additional performances at the Lincoln Center festival); for Ned Rorem’s Our Town (premiered in 2006 at Indian University, with subsequent productions in California, Washington, D.C., New York City, Saratoga, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and elsewhere). New projects include Little Nemo in Slumberland, commissioned by Sarasota Opera for performances in 2011; Michael Dellaira’s The Secret Agent, to premiere in San Antonio in 2010 with subsequent performances in New York City and North Carolina; for Bernard Rand’s Vincent, to premiere at Indiana University in 2011; and for Giorgio Battistelli’s An Inconvenient Truth, commissioned by La Scala for 2013.  He has arranged the text of Falling Man for composer Kenneth Fuchs, to be recorded by Nathan Gunn and the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he has written narratives performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. He wrote the supertitles for the Julie Taymor production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera, and a new singing translation of that opera commissioned by the Metropolitan, produced there in 2006, broadcast live to movie theaters around the world and subsequently aired on PBS’s “Great Performances; starting in 2008, it is being performed every other season at the Met. He has also written supertitles for the Metropolitan Opera’s productions of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut (2008), Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust (2008), Bellini’s La Sonnambula (2009), and Thomas’s Hamlet (2010). Many of his poems have been set as songs by various other composers.

In 1996 he was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and served until 2003 when he was named to the Academy’s Board of Directors, on which he served until 2006. In 1998 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the following year was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an organization he now serves as its president. Among his other honors, Mr. McClatchy has been awarded the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets and the Governor’s Arts Award in Connecticut, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. When he was given an Award in Literature by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1991, the citation read: “J. D. McClatchy is a poet who has emerged into highly distinctive achievement in his third collection, The Rest of the Way. Formally a master, with enormous technical skills, McClatchy writes with an authentic blend of cognitive force and a savage emotional intensity, brilliantly restrained by his care for firm rhetorical control. His increasingly complex sense of our historical overdeterminations is complemented by his concern for adjusting the balance between his own poems and tradition. It may be that no more eloquent poet will emerge in his American generation.”

UNDERGRADUATE COURSES: The Writing of Verse, Literary Translation, The Opera Libretto