Poet Masterson, Biography

Dan Masterson was elected, in 1986, to membership in Pen International in recognition of his first two volumes of verse: ON EARTH AS IT IS, and THOSE WHO TRESPASS. The complete texts of those books are currently available on the internet: http://capa.conncoll.edu (The Contemporary American Poetry Archives hosted by Connecticut College.)

WORLD WITHOUT END was published in 1991 by The University of Arkansas Press. ALL THINGS, SEEN AND UNSEEN, the poet's volume of new and selected poems, was also published by The University of Arkansas Press, in 1997. To preview or purchase the latter collection, you may click on its title at the Amazon link in Section IV of this page (Volumes of Poetry).

Professor Masterson is a biographee in CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS, THE INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF BIOGRAPHY, and WHO'S WHO IN POETRY. Recently, his work was featured on NPR's "The Writers Almanac." The nationally syndicated televison series, "The Christophers," has devoted five programs to him and his work.

A graduate of Syracuse University, he was a manuscript judge for The Associated Writing Programs' national manuscript competition, and continues as a contributing editor to the annual PUSHCART PRIZE ANTHOLOGY.

Since 1965, he has given more than one thousand poetry readings, lectures, and seminars on the national poetry circuit. He has introduced a number of literary evenings at New York City's 92nd Street YMHA Poetry Center, including those honoring Anne Sexton, Miller Williams, Joseph Heller, Anthony Hecht, and James Dickey.

National Awards

  • The Poetry Northwest Bullis Prize
  • The Borestone Mountain Poetry Award
  • The Pushcart Prize III
  • The Pushcart Prize XIII
  • The CCLM Fels Award

Volumes of Poetry

  • ON EARTH AS IT IS, The University of Illnois Press, 1978
  • THOSE WHO TRESPASS, The University of Arkansas Press, 1985
  • WORLD WITHOUT END, The University of Arkansas Press, 1991
  • ALL THINGS, SEEN AND UNSEEN, The University of Arkansas Press, 1997
  • HERE WE ARE, Circumstancial Productions, 2014

Selected Publications

  • The New Yorker
  • Poetry
  • The Ontario Review
  • Esquire
  • Ploughshares
  • Yankee
  • Shenandoah
  • The New York Quarterly
  • Poetry Northwest
  • The Prairie Schooner
  • The London Magazine
  • Bitterroot
  • Poetry Now
  • Poetry Miscellany
  • The Memphis State Review
  • The Denver Quarterly
  • Raccoon
  • North Dakota Quarterly
  • South Carolina Quarterly
  • The Chowder Review
  • The Smith
  • The Gettysburg Review
  • The Paris Review
  • The Brown Bag
  • Blueline
  • The North American Review
  • The Georgia Review
  • The Yale Review
  • The Sewanee Review
  • The Hudson Review
  • The Massachusetts Review
  • The Black Warrior Review
  • The Southern Review
  • The New Orleans Review
  • Poet and Critic
  • Crazyhorse
  • North Atlantic Quarterly
  • The Canadian Forum
  • The Barataria Review
  • The Kansas Quarterly
  • Blue Buildings
  • Hotel Amerika
  • Ekphrasis
  • Innisfree


  • THE NEW GEOGRAPHY OF POETS, The University of Arkansas Press, 1992
  • THE BEST POEMS OF 1976, Pacific Books, 1977
  • LIGHT YEAR, Bits Press, 1984
  • VITAL SIGNS, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989
  • AFTER THE STORM, Maisonneuve Press, 1992

Selected Reviews

  1. "Legacy by Water" surpasses what most of us have done by many a lap. It is an inspiration to me to read a poem so moving, so well plotted, so intensely tactile and yet always the persona is driven. Anne Sexton, Poet
  2. These poems seem wonderfully real, close to the bone, and full of compassionate observation. Robert O'Clair, Co-Editor, THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY
  3. The book is genuinely disturbing because its technical mastery illuminates, from beginning to end, so many complex and living themes. I have read it over and over again, and I've carried it about with me as Ive done with precious few books in recent years. I think the book carries absolute artistic conviction. It is a wonderful achievement. James Wright, Poet
  4. "Blizzard" is a pretty stunning piece of virtuosity; I was amazed, and still am, at how many details were drawn from the situation. Kind of a snow job? Howard Nemerov, Poet
  5. Dan Masterson has achieved that fortunate and magical ground. We believe him: everything in human life and everything in poetry depends on that response, and Masterson gives it to us, rewardingly and essentially. James Dickey, Poet-Novelist
  6. To say that nobody else could have written these poems is enough in itself to make them remarkable. Dan Masterson knows that poems are most important to us when they are built from inside the furniture of this world, and populated by people who are us. We go into them and find ourselves there, not quite as we had believed ourselves to be. This is one of the books I'll keep within reach. Miller Williams, Poet
  7. When you start WORLD WITHOUT END, you are in for a trip. The road, the path, the track will take you into places you haven't seen before. It's a find, this book, solid as a well-built cabin, chinked and pinned and ready for winter. William Stafford, Poet
  8. This is an important, moving, and memorable book by an accomplished and sensitive craftsman. Masterson can make you laugh and cry. He can break your heart. Eloquent and evocative, a compelling lyrical style. It is, finally, the authority of his voice--the wit and intelligence and compassion and music--that makes this book so successful. Ronald Wallace, Poet
  9. In his best poems, Masterson is tender, imaginative, bluntly realistic, attuned to suburban absurdity, bitterly ironic, and generally elegiac. He knows and understands cruelty, violation, pain; he can make us shiver for the everpresent threat of yawning oblivion. Dave Smith, Poet (THE APR)
  10. Dan Masterson's sense of rhythm is so sure that the reader is caught in its snare. Most of the poems in this volume have loosely varied metrical patterns, but the final one, Winter Sleep, is a long masterpiece of blank verse: fourteen seven-line stanzas, or the equivalent of seven sonnets. Judith Kitchen, Poet (THE GEORGIA REVIEW)
  11. Dan Masterson's poems tell us short stories. The suspense is killing. Gripped by the shoulder blades, you turn the pages, read on. It is a relentlessly provocative book of visions. (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)
  12. Masterson has a good eye for nature and fine control in his poems. His is a mature talent, a down-to-earth vision that avoids sterile intellectuality and narcissistic self-pity. Highly recommended. (CHOICE)
  13. These painfully beautiful poems never become mawkish or grotesque because in Masterson's humanistic vision suffering always provides some measure of knowledge and nobility. He recalls us to the light of an ever-present beauty that is fed by darkness. (LIBRARY JOURNAL)
  14. Masterson adds a masterful note to the university series that commands so much respect. His messages are telling and persuasive. (ALA BOOKLIST)
  15. The language of these poems makes possible no flinching. Perhaps this is a key to Dan Masterson's work. In none of the poems is there a turning away. A reality is faced and confronted and accepted on its own terms without apology, without subtraction, without false sentiment. William Leyden (CROSS CURRENTS)
  16. This tightly constructed book functions as a unified whole, each poem enlarging or amending the attitude which its section develops. The sections then reverberate on each other to create a still richer harmony. Powerful and moving poems. (THE HOLLINS CRITIC)
  17. THOSE WHO TRESPASS is the second book by this widely known and well-published poet. The heart of his work is the narrative. By the time we reach the last, long title poem and help him close the door on his parents' house, we are ourselves members of his family. Lewis Turco, Poet (DLB YEARBOOK)
  18. There is a kind of purity to the emotions Masterson brings to his subjects, such that the reader feels he's taking a breath of pure mountain air. He loves his subjects and by the time one is finished reading this very full and rich collection, I cannot imagine how the reader could help but love both poet and his subjects, too. (REMARK)
  19. It is not only the rendering of physical detail that makes Masterson's poetry so good; it is the emotional undertone, a kind of glue, holding each of the words together, making the poems stay with us, as an image, once we have finished reading. (ESPRIT)
  20. Imagine Thoreau having the storytelling eye of Jack London and the affinity for the land of the modern poet Wendell Berry, and one would have a good sense of the pleasure to be found in WORLD WITHOUT END. (KLIATT BOOK GUIDE)
  21. Masterson uses the outer shell of victims as a tool to lead him inward. His imagination is precise and believable. Anyone who can write such beautiful and serious poems as "For A Child Going Blind" and "The Survivors" deserves attention. (SOHO WEEKLY NEWS)
  22. Dan Masterson's ALL THINGS,SEEN AND UNSEEN is a tribute to a first-rate poet and a compendium of first-rate poetry. This is an important book that vividly reminds us of the substratum of our being. Clifford Garner (THE BLOOMSBURY REVIEW)
  23. The poems are filled with movement toward closure, flesh and muscle poems. It is a poetry that is immensely readable and enjoyable. Dick Allen, Poet (THE HUDSON REVIEW)
  24. How refreshing it is in our time to find a poet who not only makes good poems but tells good stories, and who is infinitely more interested in understanding than in moralizing. And even more than that: How refreshing it is to read poems that revere and celebrate so passionately what it means to be human. David Allen Evans, Poet (AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW)
  25. In Dan Masterson's ALL THINGS, SEEN AND UNSEEN, we find ourselves in the realm of the familiar gone suddenly strange. He finds reasons for joy, but never puffs them--or himself--up in the telling. (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)
  26. These are tough, edgy, man-made poems. (National Catholic Reporter)