(1942 - 2019)
Linda Gregg was born in Suffern, New York, and raised in Marin County, California, on a thousand acres of land. Her father was an architect and her mother was a teacher. Gregg’s childhood was solitary, so she turned to books early in her life. She attended San Francisco State University, where she met and began a long-term relationship with the poet Jack Gilbert. After she earned her BA in 1967, she and Gilbert traveled to Europe. Gregg returned to San Francisco State University for her MA once back in the U.S. Her relationship with Gilbert lasted eight years, after which the pair stayed close friends. Later, she married writer and activist John Brentlinger; they divorced in 1990.
Gregg was nearly 40 when she published her first book, Too Bright to See (1981). She followed it with Alma (1985); Sacraments of Desire (1992); Chosen by the Lion (1995); Things and Flesh (1999), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; In the Middle Distance (2006); and All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems (2008), which won both the William Carlos Williams Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize as well as being named a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2008. Her poems appeared in major literary magazines such as The New Yorker, the Paris Review, the Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as being widely anthologized.
Over her career, Gregg won many accolades from poetry institutions, including the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Jackson Poetry Prize, the Sara Teasdale Award, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize, and numerous Pushcart Prizes. She won Guggenheim Foundation and Lannan Literary Foundation fellowships and a grant from National Endowment for the Arts. Known for its careful attention to craft, Gregg’s poetry tackles broad subjects such as grief, love, and desire. She taught the esteemed poet Tracy K. Smith, who called her “a powerful ambassador for poetry’s weight and its light, for its wisdom and purity as an art form and a way of life.”
Gregg taught at many schools during her long career as an educator, including the University of Iowa, the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University. Gregg lived in New York from 2006 until her death from cancer in 2019.
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Photo by Hal Lum.