Skip to main content

Gibbons, Reginald


Award winning poet, editor, and professor, Reginald Gibbons was born in Houston January 7, 1947, to a Polish mother and an Irish-Choctaw father. Gibbons was a graduate of Princeton University and Stanford. He came to Northwestern as the editor of TriQuarterly in 1981 and also began teaching English literature classes at Northwestern at this time. He was an accomplished poet, publishing throughout his career.

Graduating magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1969 with a degree in Spanish and Portuguese and receiving the Morris Croll Prize in Poetry, Gibbons proceeded to Stanford where he graduated with his MA in English and Creative Writing in 1971, and his PhD in Comparative Literature - Poetry from 1850 to Present in Romance Languages and English the subject of his dissertation - in 1974. Between 1975 and 1981, Gibbons taught courses in Spanish and Creative Writing at Rutgers University, Princeton University and Columbia University.

In 1981, Gibbons came to Northwestern University as editor of TriQuarterly, the international journal of new creative writing and essays, a position he held until 1997. Gibbons edited and reviewed for the literary magazine, and compiled several special issues focusing on writing from South Africa, Spain, Poland and Mexico. While working as editor, Gibbons co-founded TriQuarterly Books, an imprint of Northwestern Books, which published contemporary works of fiction and poetry. Due to his editorial position, Gibbons was a member of the Illinois Literary Publishers Association (ILPA). At the same time, Gibbons also taught English literature courses as a lecturer, a position he held until 1986 when he became a full professor. Over the course of his teaching career, Gibbons taught courses ranging from poetry and fiction writing, to evaluation and criticism classes, and literature surveys. Gibbons directed several independent studies, and sat as readers and several MA and PhD theses and dissertations. Also, he taught classes for other departments including the Center for Humanities and Comparative Literary Studies, as well as seminars for the Continuing Education Series.

Gibbons' first poems were published in Story 69, in 1969. Later publications included several books of translations, criticism (notably Criticism in the University, 1985, which he co-authored with NU professor Gerald Graff), and anthologies (including a collection of William Goyen's autobiographical writings which Gibbons edited, 2007); critical essays and reviews; and seven poetry collections and chapbooks (including In the Warehouse, 2004, and Fern-Text, 2005), a collection of short stories and a novel (Sweetbitter, 1996). Later in his career, he was a columnist for American Poetry Review. Gibbons' published works have won him the First Prize for Poetry (Story 69), a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, The Denver Quarterly translation award, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Poetry, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry, the National Poetry Series competition, the Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Award, the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for poetry, the Pushcart Prize, the Carl Sandburg Award and several other prizes, awards and fellowships. His work has been reviewed in the New Times, New York Times Book Review, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, The New Republic, Boston Globe, Poetry, Booklist, The Nation, Review of Contemporary Fiction, American Poetry Review and elsewhere. Gibbons also had several drawings published throughout his career.

From 1986 on, Gibbons held a continuing position as a core faculty member for Warren Wilson College's MFA Program for Writers, a position he began as a writer-in-residence. Gibbons also held visiting appointments at Princeton University, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, as well as giving lectures and readings, and teaching classes and seminars at over one-hundred universities in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

Gibbons married Cornelia Spelman, a social worker, therapist and author of children's books.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Reginald Gibbons (1947-) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/11/38
Abstract Award winning poet, editor, and professor, Gibbons came to Northwestern University as editor of TriQuarterly, the international journal of new creative writing and essays, a position he held until 1997.The Reginald Gibbons Papers consist of biographical, correspondence, teaching, student, financial and publication files.
Dates: 1977-2003