Marilyn-Hacker 3980

Marilyn Hacker. Courtesy Babelio.

Marilyn Hacker (born November 27, 1942) is an American poet, translator, and academic. 


Hacker was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, the only child of Jewish immigrant parents. Her father was a management consultant and her mother a teacher.

She attended the Bronx High School of Science], where she met her future husband Samuel R. Delany, who became a well-known science fiction writer. She enrolled at New York University at the age of 15, earning a B.A. in 1964.

To marry, Hacker and Delany traveled from New York to Detroit, Michigan. Delany explained in his autobiography The Motion of Light in Water, "Because of different age-of-consent laws for men and women, not to mention miscegenation laws [Hacker is white and Delany is black], there were only two states in the union where we could legally wed. The closest one was Michigan."[1]

They settled in New York's East Village. Their daughter, Iva Hacker-Delany, was born in 1974. Hacker and Delany, after being separated for many years, were divorced in 1980, but remain friends. Hacker identifies as lesbian,[2] and Delany has identified as a gay man since adolescence.[3] During her marriage to Delany, both Hacker and Delany had other sexual relationships as well, with people of both sexes.

In the '60s and '70s, Hacker worked mostly in commercial editing. She returned to NYU, edited the university literary magazine, publishing poems by Charles Simic and Grace Schulman, and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Romance languages.

Hacker's first publication was in Cornell University's Epoch. After moving to London in 1970, she found an audience through the pages of The London Magazine and Ambit. She and her husband edited the magazine Quark: A Quarterly of Speculative Fiction (4 issues; 1970-1971). She also performed in a series of U.S. State Department-sponsored readings at British universities with the influential rock band Eggs Over Easy. Early recognition came for her when Richard Howard, then editor of the New American Review, accepted 3 of Hacker's poems for publication.

From 1990 to 1994 she was the editor of the Kenyon Review, the 1st full-time editor of the publication, where she was noted for "broadening the quarterly's scope to include more minority and marginalized viewpoints."(Citation needed)

Hacker lives in New York and Paris with her partner of 10 years, physician assistant Karyn London, and teaches at the City College of New York (where she is a Professor of English) and the CUNY Graduate Center. 

Hacker's daughter with Delany, Iva Hacker Delany, is a theatre director in New York City.[4]


Hacker often employs strict poetic forms in her poetry: for example, in Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons, which is a verse novel in sonnets. She is also recognized as a master of "French forms," particularly the villanelle.


In 1974, when she was 31, Presentation Piece was published by Viking Press . The book, a Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets, also received a National Book Award. Winter Numbers, which details the loss of many of her friends to AIDS and her own struggle with breast cancer, garnered a Lambda Literary Award and The Nation's Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Her Selected Poems, 1965-1990 received the 1996 Poets' Prize. She received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004.

In 2009, Hacker won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne,[5] which also garnered the first Robert Fagles Translation Prize from the National Poetry Series.

In 2010, she received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.[6]

In popular cultureEdit

Hacker is mentioned in Heavenly Breakfast, Delany's memoir of a New York City commune during the so-called Summer of Love in 1967, as well as in Delany's autobiography, The Motion of Light in Water.



  • The Terrible Children. privately published, 1967.
  • Highway Sandwiches (with Thomas M. Disch & Charles Platt). privately published, 1970.
  • Presentation Piece. New York: Viking, 1974.
  • Separations. New York: Knopf, 1976.
  • Taking Notice. New York: Knopf, 1980.
  • Assumptions. New York: Knopf, 1985.
  • Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons. New York: Arbor House, 1986; New York: Norton, 1995.
  • Going Back to the River. New York: Random House, 1990.
  • The Hang-Glider's Daughter: Selected poems. London: Onlywomen Press, 1990.
  • Selected Poems, 1965-1990. New York: Norton, 1994.
  • Winter Numbers. New York: Norton, 1994.
  • First Cities: Collected early poems, 1960-1979. New York: Norton, 2003.
  • Desperanto: Poems, 1999-2002. New York: Norton, 2003.
  • Essays on Departure: New and selected poems. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 2006.
  • Names. New York: Norton, 2009.


  • Squares and Courtyards. New York: Norton, 2000.


  • Claire Malroux, Edge. Wake Forest, NC: Wake Forest University Press, 1996.
  • Claire Malroux, A Long-Gone Sun. New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 2000.
  • Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Here There Was Once a Country. Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College Press, 2001.
  • Vénus Khoury-Ghata, She Says. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2003.
  • Claire Malroux, Birds and Bison. New York: Sheep Meadow Press, 2004.
  • Marie Étienne, King of a Hundred Horsemen. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2008.


  • Quark I-IV (4 volumes; edited with Samuel R. Delany). New York: Paperback Library, 1970-71.
  • Woman Poet: The east. Reno, NV: Women in Literature, 1982.


  • Five Poems of Marilyn Hacker: Soprano and chamber ensemble (printed music). New York: C.F. Peters, 1989.
  • Hub of Ambiguity: For soprano and eight players, 1984 (printed music). Donemus, 1992.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[7]

Audio / videoEdit

Marilyn Hacker "Rune of the Finland Woman"

Marilyn Hacker "Rune of the Finland Woman"

  • The Poetry and Voice of Marilyn Hacker (LP). Caedmon, 1976.
  • Treasury of American Jewish Poets Reading Their Poems (sound recording, edited by Paul Kresh). Spoken Arts Recordings, 1979.
  • Marilyn Hacker (sound recording). University of Missouri, New Letters, 1979.

Except where noted, discographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. Delany, Samuel R. (2004). The Motion of Light in Water. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 22. ISBN 0965903753. 
  2. Finch, Annie. Marilyn Hacker: An interview on form. American Poetry Review. May 1996.
  3. Delany, Samuel R. "Coming/Out". In Shorter Views (Wesleyan University Press, 1999).
  4. The New Ensemble Theatre Co. (TNE) program for Romeo and Juliet, 1998
  5. Marilyn Hacker: King of a Hundred Horsemen
  6. PEN Winners Announced
  7. 7.0 7.1 Marilyn Hacker b. 1942, Poetry Foundation, Web, Sep. 28, 2012.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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