Front, 2nd from left: With Cub Scout “den parents” Leo Durocher & Larraine Day, 1950
Interlochen, 1955. Left to right:
Eugene Zoro, Larry Combs, CN, Peter Hadcock
Charles North was born in Brooklyn and grew up in and near New York City. A classical clarinetist in his youth, he played with his first orchestra at thirteen and spent summers in the music program in Interlochen, Michigan. For a time he was going to make music his career.
He studied English and philosophy at Tufts (where he met wife, Paula; they have two grown children, Jill and Michael) and English at Columbia, and then spent six weeks at Harvard Law School before dropping out. In his mid-twenties, while copy-editing for a publishing company, he began writing poems and found his way to Kenneth Koch’s poetry workshop at The New School, which he credits with changing his life. Soon after, he was hired to teach English at (then) Pace College, where he eventually became the University’s first Poet-in-Residence.
The newly formed Poetry Project in New York City was central to North’s development as a poet. He went to numerous readings, published in Project magazines, and befriended other poets of his generation, including two who would become close colleagues, Tony Towle and Paul Violi.
North’s first (self-published) poetry collection, the innovative Lineups (1972), was featured in two New York Post sports columns and reprinted in several anthologies. Since Lineups, he has published twelve books of poems, along with several chapbooks, collaborative books with Towle and with the artists Trevor Winkfield and Paula North, and three books of selected prose on poetry, poets, artists, and critics. In the mid-70s he reviewed for Art in America and began to publish literary reviews and critical pieces as well, and he briefly taught in the Poets-in-the Schools program. With James Schuyler, he edited the poet/painter anthology Broadway in 1979, and subsequently Broadway 2, and with Violi he ran the Swollen Magpie Press from 1976-1982.
North’s poems have appeared in more than 40 anthologies, including From the Other Side of the Century: A New American Poetry 1960-1990, Post-Modern Poetry in America, The New York Poets II, The Sienese Shredder, and Best American Poetry. In addition to Art in America, his critical prose has been published in such places as American Poetry Review, American Book Review, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Project Newsletter, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Teachers & Writers Collaborative Newsletter, The World, Jacket 2, Tether, and The Lovers in My Orchard: Essays on Frank O'Hara. Among his awards are two NEA Creative Writing Fellowships and four Fund for Poetry awards. In 2008 he was awarded an Individual Artist’s Grant by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and in 2011 David Orr chose his book What It Is Like: New and Selected Poems to head NPR's Best Poetry Books of the Year. His most recent collection, Everything and Other Poems (2020), was a NY Times New and Noteworthy Book. Three New York Poets (Station Hill, 2015) includes a mini-anthology of his work along with biographical and critical essays.
North has read his poems at numerous venues including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Library of Congress, The Sackler Museum at Harvard, the National Arts Club, Columbia University, Brown University, M.I.T., University of California at Berkeley, NYU, Bard College, Cue Art Foundation, KGB Bar Poetry, Bowery Poetry Club, The Poetry Project, The School of Visual Arts, The Cue Art Foundation, The New School Poetry Forum, and Dia Foundation. A selection of readings can be found online at PennSound.