Mary Jo Salter worked on her seventh collection of poems, Nothing by Design (2013), while at MacDowell.
Poet, editor, essayist, playwright, and lyricist Mary Jo Salter was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She earned degrees from Harvard and Cambridge University. A former editor at the Atlantic Monthly, poetry editor at the New Republic, and co-editor of the fourth and fifth editions of the Norton Anthology of Poetry, Salter’s thorough understanding of poetic tradition is clearly evident in her work. Salter is the author of many books of poetry, including A Kiss in Space (1999), Open Shutters (2003), A Phone Call to the Future (2008), Nothing by Design (2013), and The Surveyors (2017). Her second book, Unfinished Painting (1989) was a Lamont Selection for the most distinguished second volume of poetry published that year, Sunday Skaters (1994) was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and Open Shutters was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Salter has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation and taught for many years at Mount Holyoke College. She is currently the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
Salter is also the author of a children’s book, The Moon Comes Home (1989) and a play, Falling Bodies (2004). She composed the lyrics for the song cycle Rooms of Light, with music from pianist and composer Fred Hersch. The piece debuted at Lincoln Center in 2007.