May Swenson

May Swenson (Anna Thilda May “May” Swenson, 28 May 1913 – 4 December 1989) was an American writer.

Born in the United States to Swedish immigrant parents, she grew up in a Mormon household, and English was her second language. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University. From 1959 to 1966, she worked as manuscript reviewer at New Directions Press. She taught poetry as poet-in-residence at Bryn Mawr College, the University of California, the Utah State University, among others. Her poems were published in The Atlantic MonthlyThe NationThe New YorkerThe Paris Review, and Poetry. She held fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. She received an honorary degree from Utah State University. Swenson was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1980-1989.


  • National Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1960)
  • Brandeis University Creative Arts Award (1967)
  • Lucy Martin Donnelly Award of Bryn Mawr College (1968)
  • Shelley Poetry Award (1968)
  • Bollingen Prize for poetry (1981)



  • Another Animal (1954)
  • A Cage of Spines (1958)
  • To Mix with Time: New and Selected Poems (1963)
  • Half Sun Half Sleep (1967)
  • Iconographs (1970)
  • New & Selected Things Taking Place (1978)
  • In Other Words (1987)
  • The Love Poems (1991)
  • Nature: Poems Old and New (1994)
  • May Out West (1996)
  • Collected Poems (2013).


  • Made With Words (1998)


  • The Floor (1960)

Poems for Children

  • Poems to Solve (1966)
  • More Poems to Solve (1968)
  • Spell Coloring Book (1976)

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