Alfred Corn was born in Bainbridge, Georgia, in 1943. He grew up in Valdosta, Georgia, and received his B.A. in French literature from Emory University in 1965. He was awarded an M.A. in French literature from Columbia University in 1967, his degree work including a year spent in Paris on a Fulbright Fellowship and two years of teaching in the French Department at Columbia College. His first book of poems, All Roads at Once (Viking), appeared in 1976, followed by A Call in the Midst of the Crowd (Viking, 1978), The Various Light (Viking, 1980), Notes from a Child of Paradise (Viking, 1984), The West Door (Viking, 1988), and Autobiographies (Viking, 1992).
His seventh book of poems, Present (Counterpoint), appeared in 1997, along with a novel titled Part of His Story (Mid-List Press), and a study of prosody: The Poem’s Heartbeat (Story Line Press). Stake: Selected Poems, 1972–1992 (Counterpoint), appeared in 1999, followed by Contradictions (Copper Canyon) in 2002. He has also published a collection of critical essays titled The Metamorphoses of Metaphor (Viking, 1988) and a work of art criticism, Aaron Rose Photographs (Abrams, 2001). In 2008, his Atlas: Selected Essays, 1989–2007 was published by the University of Michigan Press. Fellowships and prizes awarded for his poetry include the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine, a Guggenheim fellowship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Award in Literature from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and one from the Academy of American Poets. He has taught at the City University of New York, Columbia, Yale, Connecticut College, the University of Cincinnati, UCLA, the Ohio State University, Hofstra University, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Tulsa. A contributor to The New York Times Book Review and The Nation, he also writes art criticism for Art in America and ARTnews magazines. In October 2003, he was a fellow of the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center at Bellagio, and held the Amy Clampitt Residency in Lenox, Massachusetts, for 2004–2005. In London, later that year, he taught a course for the Poetry School, and one for the Arvon Foundation at Totleigh Barton, Devon. His play Lowell’s Bedlam opened in the spring of 2011 at Pentameters Theatre in London. He spends part of every year in the U.K., and for the spring term of 2012, he will be a resident fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge University, working on a translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies.