Grace Schulman's acclaimed poetry is often about joy, the celebration of the miraculous, and the birth of beauty from adversity. In her new prose collection, she explores the passion for reading and other disciplines that led her to exult in her craft. First Loves is part of the award-winning Poets on Poetry series. Schulman spends part of the book discussing how she became a writer, with influences ranging from her aunt Helen, who leapt from a tower in Poland, to childhood memories of her father reading to her in a foreign language. Writing had a dramatic impact on her at a young age, and the magic of language led her to poetry as a medium for expressing, convincing, and exhorting us to new heights. The second half of the book focuses on some of the writers and works that have enchanted Schulman over the years, ranging from the King James Bible to T. S. Eliot to Walt Whitman. Art transcends formal boundaries, Schulman believes, and she displays this over and over again in her examples of her life influences and in her own work. As part of describing the varied influences on her art and career, Schulman touches on a variety of other disciplines, including science and the vel, music and art, and their relation to poetry as a field. Albert Einstein and DNA discoverers Watson and Crick are related to the image in a poem, Schulman asserts, and gifted lyricist Stephen Sondheim may himself be a poet working within traditional forms.
Grace Schulman is the author of six books of poems. Among her honors are the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and New York University's Distinguished Alumni Award. Her poems have won three Pushcart prizes, and her collection Days of Wonder was selected by Library Journal as one of the best poetry books of 2002. Schulman is the former director of the Poetry Center and former poetry editor of the Nation and currently is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York.