biography | fiction | nonfiction | poetry | translations | projects | events | links
| write me
|Jesse Lee Kercheval is a poet, fiction
writer, memoirist, and translator. She was born in Fontainbleau, France,
and raised in Washington, D.C. and Florida. She currently divides her
time between Madison, Wisconsin, and Montevideo, Uruguay.
In 1983, she received a BA in History from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, where she studied writing with Janet Burroway, David Kirby, and Jerome Stern, among others. In 1986, she received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. After teaching a year as an assistant professor at DePauw University, she joined the writing faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987, where she is now the Zona Gale Professor of English. She was director of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing from 1994 to 2010 and the founding director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing. She currently serves as the Director of the Program in Creative Writing. She is an affiliate faculty member of the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program at UW-Madison.
Kercheval is the author of fifteen books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Her most recent books are the bilingual Spanish/English poetry collection, Extranjera/Stranger (Editorial Yaugarú, 2015) and the novel My Life as a Silent Movie (Indiana University Press, 2013). Her novella Brazil (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2010) won the Ruthanne Wiley Memorial Novella Award. Her poetry collection Cinema Muto (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009) was selected by David Wojahn for the Crab Orchard Open Selection Award. Her story collection The Alice Stories (University of Nebraska Press, 2007) won the Prairie Schooner Fiction Book Prize. Her first story collection The Dogeater (University of Missouri Press, 1987) won the Associated Writing Programs Award in Short Fiction. Space (Algonquin Books, 1998, reissued by the University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), her memoir about growing up near Cape Kennedy during the moon race, won the Alex Award from the American Library Association. Her novel The Museum of Happiness, set in Paris in 1929, has been reissued with a new afterword by the author by the University of Wisconsin Press as part of its Library of American Fiction. Her popular writing text Building Fiction has also been reissued in trade paperback by the UW Press. Her other poetry collections are Dog Angel (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004) and World as Dictionary (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1999). She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, Torres/Towers (Editorial Yaugarú, 2014), Film History as Train Wreck (Center for Book Arts, 2006), and Chartreuse (Hollyridge Press, 2005). Her stories and essays as well as her English and Spanish language poems appear regularly in literary magazines in the United States and abroad.
She is also a translator, specializing in Uruguayan poetry. Her translations include Invisible Bridge/ El puente invisible: Selected Poems of Circe Maia (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). She is also the editor of América Invertida: an Anthology of Younger Uruguayan Poets, forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. Her translations of the Uruguayan poets Circe Maia, Tatiana Oroño, Idea Vilariño, and Javier Etchevarren have appeared in the American Literary Review, the Atlanta Review, Blackbird, the Colorado Review, Guernica, the International Poetry Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Stand, World Literature Today, and The New Yorker. In 2015, she received a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Translation.
Kercheval has also been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and well as fellowships from the Radcliffe Research and Study Center at Harvard, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Corporation of Yaddo, and James A. Michener and the Copernicus Society.