Michael McGriff

“Michael McGriff chronicles dissolution with language that manages to be simultaneously spare, cinematic and tactile. It’s that language that keeps you reading along, transfixed.”

—The New York Times Book Review


Michael McGriff is an author, editor, and translator whose work centers on the intersection of surrealism with place, working-class narratives, and poverty in the rural American West. He was born and raised in Coos Bay, Oregon, and studied creative writing at the University of Oregon, The Michener Center for Writers, and Stanford University. He is the co-author, with J. M. Tyree, of the linked story collection Our Secret Life in the Movies, which was selected as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. His poetry collections include Eternal Sentences, Early Hour, Black Postcards, Home Burial, and Dismantling the Hills. He is the translator of Tomas Traströmer’s The Sorrow Gondola and editor of a volume of David Wevill’s essential writing, To Build My Shadow a Fire. From 2009-2014 he published and edited Tavern Books, a nonprofit literary press dedicated to poetry in translation and the revival of out-of-print contemporary classics. He is a former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, and his work has been honored with a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice,” a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Poetry, Bookforum, The Believer, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Poetry London, and on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and PBS NewsHour. He has taught creative writing at Stanford University, The Michener Center for Writers, and Lewis & Clark College, and for several years has mentored young writers as a Visiting Writer at American International School in Vienna, Austria, and as a faculty member in the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. In addition to serving as co-director of the creative writing program at the University of Idaho, he works as an at-large editor for the Northwest Review.


photo credit: Marcus Jackson



Eternal Sentences


Angel Sharpening its Beak


Early Hour

Short Stories

Our Secret Life in the Movies


Home Burial


The Sorrow Gondola


To Build My Shadow a Fire


Dismantling the Hills

Limited-Edition Books

Limited Edition, Poetry

Regarding Fire and Other Dedications


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In the Company of Known Strangers
The New York Times

The Eternal Moment: Translating the Nobel Laureate

In Their Own Words: Early Hour
Poetry Society of America

Writers Recommend: Denis Johnson
Poets & Writers

The Lunar Mice of My Generation
Los Angeles Review of Books


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Lannan Literary Fellowship

National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship

NPR Best Books of 2014 Selection for Our Secret Life in the Movies

The New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice selection for Home Burial

Miller Williams Poetry Prize for Eternal Sentences

Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for Dismantling the Hills

Balcones Poetry Prize for Dismantling the Hills

Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing

James A. Michener Fellowship in Creative Writing

Lannan Literary Selection for Home Burial

Lannan Writer’s Residency

Levis Reading Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University for Home Burial

Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from The Poetry Foundation