Marie Ponsot Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

In addition to her poetry, Marie Ponsot (PAHN-saht) has also gained recognition for her translations of children’s books from the French. She has translated numerous books, focusing primarily on fairy tales.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Marie Ponsot’s poetry has won several honors, including a creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize, the Eunice Tietjens Prize from Poetry magazine, and the Modern Language Association’s Mina P. Shaughnessy Medal. The Bird Catcher received the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She won the Shelley Memorial Award (2002) and the Frost Medal (2005) from the Poetry Society of America, and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2009). She became a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Burt, Stephen. “The Wonder Years.” Review of Easy. The New York Times Book Review, December 20, 2009, p. 6L. Notes how this collection deals with themes of aging and critiques her style, finding her best when dealing with down-to-earth topics.

Gilbert, Sandra M. “The Last Wilderness of the Wild Old: On Marie Ponsot’s The Bird Catcher and Rajzel Zychlinsky’s God Hid His Face.” In On Burning Ground: Thirty Years of Thinking About Poetry. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009. Compares the works of these two poets, who, she says, share a poetic intensity. However, Ponsot’s poetry is more positive and life affirming than that of Zuchlinsky.

Hacht, Anne Marie, and David Kelly, eds. Poetry for Students. Vol. 24. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2006. Contains an in-depth analysis of Ponsot’s “One Is One.”

Krivak, Andrew. “The Language of Redemption.” Commonweal 130, no. 9 (May, 2003): 12-16. Krivak discusses Ponsot in conjunction with two other Catholic poets, Adam Zagajewski and Lawrence Joseph.

Parini, Jay, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Contains a biographical essay on Ponsot that examines her place in poetry.

Seaman, Donna. Review of The Bird Catcher. Booklist 94, no. 11 (February 1, 1998): 894. The reviewer celebrates the poet’s use of homonyms and varied rhyme schemes, as well as linguistic and philosophical paradoxes.

Smith, Dinitia. “Recognition at Last for Poet of Elegant Complexity.” Review of The Bird Catcher. The New York Times, April 13, 1999, p. E1. Provides an extensive analysis of the precision of word choice and the complexity of syntax that Ponsot employs in her poetry. The reviewer finds that the rhetorical patterns are well thought out and that Ponsot pays particular attention to the fixed forms such as the villanelle, the sestina, and the tritina.

Willis, Mary-Sherman. “Diving into It.” Review of The Bird Catcher. Poet Lore 94, no. 4 (Winter, 2000). Discusses the poet’s use of biographical elements in her work. The reviewer shows how the full life that Ponsot led has shaped these poems, which are ultimately life affirming. The reviewer finds that the general theme is one of movement, of buoyancy and danger, of leaving the shore and returning.