Ralph Angel is a second-generation American from Seattle. He attended inner-city public schools there, and, while working freight trains for the Union Pacific Railroad, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Washington. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of California, Irvine, and has lived in and around Los Angeles ever since. Since his early college days, he has traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, and Central and South America. He is currently Edith R. White Chair of English and Creative Writing at the University of Redlands, and is a member of the MFA in Creative Writing faculty at Vermont College.
His first collection, Anxious Latitudes (1986), was widely praised and reviewed. His second book, Neither World (1995), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, garnered him national prominence. A third work, Twice Removed (2001), was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. His most recent literary awards include a gift from the Elgin Cox Trust, a Pushcart Prize, the Willis Barnstone Poetry Translation Prize for his translation of García Lorca’s Poem of a Deep Song, a Fulbright Foundation fellowship, and the Bess Hokin Award of the Modern Poetry Association.
Angel’s work has been lauded for its extraordinary abstract lyricism and wry philosophical wisdom. It also has been noted that his collections differ dramatically from one another, about which he has stated: “Poetry is the language for which we have no language. Given that I have only two tools—the language in which I compose and the fact of my reality—it’s my job to find the language that enacts the fact of my reality. If my poems have changed and evolved over the years, they are testimony to how my life and orientation to language have changed and evolved. It’s my job to make absolute presence possible.”
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Anxious Latitudes (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1986); Neither World (Oxford, Ohio: Miami University Press, 1995); Twice Removed (Louisville, Kentucky: Sarabande Books, 2001); Exceptions and Melancholies: Poems 1986-2006 (Louisville, Kentucky: Sarabande Books, 2006)