Edmund Keeley, author, translator, educator, critic, and administrator, was born in Damascus, Syria, on February 5, 1928. When he was three, his family moved to Canada for five years. He lived in Greece from ages 8 to 11, receiving his primary education in Thessaloniki. After attending high school and college in the U.S., Keeley was a Fulbright Scholar and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and went on to receive a Doctorate in Comparative Literature from Oxford University in 1952.
In 1954, he began teaching at Princeton University, where he became a full professor of English and creative writing, continuing in that capacity until his retirement in 1993.
During his career at Princeton, Keeley held directorships of the Creative Arts Program, the Creative Writing and Theatre Program, and the Hellenic Studies Program. Keeley also held various offices outside of Princeton’s walls. He served as president of the Modern Greek Studies Association, vice-president of the Poetry Society of America, and president of PEN American Center.
Keeley has written eight novels, fourteen volumes of poetry in translation, and ten volumes of nonfiction. His first novel, The Libation, won him the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1959 and an honorable mention in the New Jersey Author’s Award the following year. His translation in Six Poets of Modern Greece, which he translated with Philip Sherrard, won the Guiness Poetry Award in 1962. Keeley captured the New Jersey Author’s Award two more times: in 1968 for George Seferis: Collected Poems, 1924-1955, and for his third novel, The Impostor, in 1970. In 1959, he received his first Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in Fiction; and in 1973 he was named a Guggenheim Fellow for the second time. In 1973, C. P. Cavafy: Selected Poems was nominated for a National Book Award in Translation. In 1999, he received an Academy Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters.
His novel, The Megabuilders of Queenston Park, was published in Fall/2013 by Wild River Books. In 2014, Edmund Keeley and Karen Emmerich received the 2014 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for their translation of Yannis Ritsos’s poems, Diaries of Exile. Three Poems for Mary is part of a suite of seven poems published as Requiem for Mary by Greenhouse Review Press, 2015. The Act of Nature was first published in the Yale Review, Fall 2014. The Asphodel Plain, Act of Faith and Hospice were first published in the Hudson Review, Winter, 2015.
Works by Edmund Keeley
PEN WORLD VOICES – Diaries of Exile – Yannis Ritsos: The Leaf’s Shadow
POETRY – My Mother’s Moussaka
Three Poems for Mary