Nathaniel Mackey was born in Miami, Florida, in 1947, and grew up, from age four, in California. He is the author of five chapbooks of poetry: Four for Trane (Golemics, 1978), Septet for the End of Time (Boneset, 1983), Outlantish (Chax Press, 1992), Song of the Andoumboulou: 18-20 (Moving Parts Press, 1994), and Four for Glenn (Chax Press, 2002); four books of poetry: Eroding Witness (University of Illinois Press, 1985), School of Udhra (City Lights Books, 1993), Whatsaid Serif (City Lights Books, 1998) and Splay Anthem (New Directions, 2006); and an ongoing prose work, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, of which four volumes have been published: Bedouin Hornbook (Callaloo Fiction Series, 1986; second edition: Sun & Moon Press, 1997), Djbot Baghostus’s Run (Sun & Moon Press, 1993), Atet A.D. (City Lights Books, 2001), and Bass Cathedral (New Directions, 2008); the first three of these have been published together as From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate: Volumes 1-3 (New Directions, 2010). He is also the author of two books of criticism: Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing (Cambridge University Press, 1993; paper edition: University of Alabama Press, 2000), and Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25, a compact disc recording of poems read with musical accompaniment (Royal Hartigan, percussion; Hafez Modirzadeh, reeds and flutes), was released in 1995 by Spoken Engine Company. He is editor of the literary magazine Hambone and coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthology Moment’s Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993).
His awards and honors include the selection of Eroding Witness for publication in the National Poetry Series, a Whiting Writer’s Award in 1993, election to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2001, the National Book Award for Splay Anthem in 2006, an Artist’s Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2007, the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize in 2007, the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society in 2008, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010.