Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Cynthia Macdonald is known primarily as a poet, she also wrote the libretto for the opera The Rehearsal, with music by Thomas Benjamin, which was produced in 1980 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. That same year, her lyrics were set to music by Judy Collins for “This Is the Day,” recorded on Elektra. Macdonald is also the author of reviews, essays, memoirs, and commentaries on her own poems and on the writing process, which have appeared in various books and periodicals.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Cynthia Macdonald has won critical acclaim both for her originality in tone and expression and for her mastery of technique. Early in her career, she was given grants by the MacDowell Colony, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Yaddo Foundation, and CAPS, as well as an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1977. She was named a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in 1978. In 1991, Macdonald’s Living Wills was chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one of the Notable Books of the Year. In 1992, the Folger Shakespeare Library awarded Macdonald its O. B. Hardison, Jr., Poetry Prize.

Another of Macdonald’s major achievements was her work with the University of Houston’s creative writing program, which she was asked to develop in the late 1970’s. Within less than two decades, it was being ranked as one of the best graduate programs of its kind in the United States.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Hosmer, Robert. “What We See and Feel and Are.” Review of Living Wills: New and Selected Poems. Southern Review 28 (Spring, 1992): 439-441. An incisive discussion of the difference in tone and focus between Macdonald’s first three books and her later works. Beginning with Alternate Means of Transport, her poetry has a “new, spiritual dimension.”

Macdonald, Cynthia. “Heaven Is God’s Throne; Earth, His Footstool.” Prairie Schooner 72 (Fall, 1988): 46-60. An autobiographical essay about the internal conflicts that resulted from the author’s being reared in a household that was neither Christian nor Jewish. The poem “And Cause His Countenance to Shine upon You” illustrates the points made in the essay.

_______. “Mosaic Law: The Bits and Pieces from Which One Woman’s Poems Are Made.” In Where We Stand: Women Poets on Literary Tradition, edited by Sharon Bryan. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993. Discusses the unique problems women writers face in their search for a literary tradition. The poet has chosen to utilize “bits and pieces” from her reading and her studies to create “mosaics” that are hers alone.

_______. “The Role of the Stars in Psychoanalysis.” Yale Review 79 (Summer, 1990): 579-603. In this memoir, much of which is written as a conversation...

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