Brian Swann

Adjunct Professor

Brian Swann was born in Wallsend on Tyne, England, educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge (B.A., M.A.), graduating as Foundation Scholar with a Double First in the English Tripos and rowing for both college and university. He was awarded his Ph.D. from Princeton, where he was also a Proctor Fellow and Princeton National Fellow. He taught there and at Rutgers and was director of the Bennington Writing Workshops. Now Professor of Humanities at The Cooper Union in New York City, he is the author of a number of books of poetry, fiction, children’s books and poetry in translation, and has edited volumes on Native American literature. He has published in scores of academic and literary journals from English Literary History, Nineteenth Century Fiction, Novel, and Criticism to The New Yorker, Paris Review, New Republic, American Scholar, Yale Review, Hudson Review, and Poetry. His poetry books include The Middle of the Journey (University of Alabama Press), Autumn Road (Ohio State University Press), In Late Light (Johns Hopkins University Press), St. Francis and the Flies, (Autumn House Press), Companions, Analogies (Sheep Meadow Press), Sunday Out of Nowhere: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press), as well as Song of the Sky: Versions of Native American Song-Poems (University of Massachusetts Press) and Wearing the Morning Star: Versions of Native American Song-Poems (Random House). In 2022 Johns Hopkins University Press will publish "Imago". His short fiction collections include The Plot of the Mice (Capra Press), Dogs on the Roof and Not the Real Marilyn Monroe (both MadHat Press). Another collection, The First Five, and a novel, Huskanaw, are forthcoming from the same press in late 2020.  His translations and co-translations include Collected Poems of Primo Levi, (Faber and Faber), Selected Poetry of Andrea Zanzotto; Selected Poems of Lucio Piccolo; The Dawn in Always New: Selected Poetry of Rocco Scotellaro (all Princeton University Press). His children’s books include The House With No Door and Touching the Distance, (both Browndeer/Harcourt Brace), and A Basket Full of White Eggs (Orchard/Franklin Watts). His edited books include Smoothing the Ground: Essays on Native American Literature (University of California Press), On the Translation of Native American Literatures (Smithsonian Institution Press), and Coming to Light: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America (Random House). Voices from Four Directions: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America; Algonquian Spirit: Translations of the Algonquian Literatures of North America; Sky Loom: Native American Myth, Story, Song, are all from the University of Nebraska Press. He was founder and series editor of “The Smithsonian Series of Studies in Native American Literatures,” and is founder and series editor of the University of Nebraska Press “Native Literatures of the Americas,” which in 2017 became “Native Literatures of the Americas and Indigenous World Literatures.” He has won a number of awards, prizes and fellowships.

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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.