Joseph Featherstone

February 9, 2001
Joseph Featherstone

Joseph Featherstone's first full-length book of poetry, Brace's Cove, shows that he has developed from a prose writer, journalist, and critic into a terrific poet. For all the close focus of the individual poems, Brace's Cove expresses an entire contemporary American life over the last 20 years. The collection's title--an Atlantic cove to the north of Gloucester, Massachusetts--points to Featherstone's grounding in particulars, especially his painterly love affair with landscape, nature, and the animal world. Featherstone is that great rarity, a poet completely accessible to new readers of poetry who also gets the highest praise from veteran poets who prize craft and workmanship.

He served as an editor of the New Republic from the middle 1960's to the 1980's, when his literary criticism, his political journalism, and his writing on education made him one of the country's best-known critics. (Education Week recently listed him as one of 100 notable figures who influenced US education over the course of the last century.) He has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Michigan State. He has also spent the last two decades as an educational practitioner--first as headmaster of the Commonwealth School in Boston, and then as one of the founders and faculty leaders of an acclaimed teacher education program at Michigan State.


Featherstone was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Japan. He now lives with his wife, Helen Featherstone, and their 3 daughters in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and East Lansing, Michigan.

"Brace's Cove is a remarkably beautiful first book of poems. These poems are unembellished, permeable, musically sweet, riddled with necessity. Featherstone is urgent and authentic and wild with clarity; he has the gift of truth." -Lucie Brock-Broido, poet and director of the Creative Writing Department at Columbia University.

For more information on Joseph Featherstone, please visit his website:

To view Special Collections' holdings of Featherstone's work, please click here.

To hear Featherstone read from his own work, please visit the Vincent Voice Library, here.

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Last Updated: March 12, 2010