Matthew Brennan



Lamar University Literary Press

Release date: May 1, 2021

Brief Bio

Matthew Brennan taught courses in poetry writing and literature for 32 years at Indiana State University.   He retired as Professor Emeritus of English in 2017.  After graduating from Saint Louis University High, he earned a B.A. at Grinnell College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  He then received master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota, where he taught for a year as a visiting assistant professor of English before moving to Terre Haute.  He has published eight volumes of poetry, including two chapbooks (American Scenes, 2001, and The Light of Common Day, 2011).  The House with the Mansard Roof was a finalist for the Best Books of Indiana in 2010. HIs newest book is Snow in New York: New and Selected Poems (Lamar University Literary Press, 2021).  It compiles Brennan's best poems since 1977 and includes more than twenty poems written since One Life appeared in 2016.  

Brennan is also the author of four books of literary criticism and scholarship, most recently The Poet's Holy Craft (University of South Carolina Press, 2010), a study of antebellum poet William GIlmore Simms, and The Colosseum Critical Introduction to Dana Gioia (Franciscan University Press, 2020).  He published Wordsworth, Turner, and Romantic Landscape (1987) and The Gothic Psyche (1997) with Camden House.  His poems and criticism have appeared in such publications as Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Commonweal, South Carolina Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, Sewanee Review, The Wordsworth Circle, South Atlantic Quarterly, Romanticism Past & Present, New York TImes Book Review, Southern Quarterly, Georgia Review, American Book Review, and South Dakota Review.

In 1999 Wendell Berry picked Brennan's poem "The Sublime" as the winner of the Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred, and Brennan has received two grants from the Indiana Arts Commission.  He is the recipient of the Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research and Creativity Award.  Garrison Keillor has twice read his poetry on NPR's The Writer's  Almanac, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser has reprinted Brennan's verse in the American Life Project, which is funded by the Poetry Foundation.


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Snow in New York: New and Selected Poems

     Lamar U. Literary Press, 2020

One Life

Lamar U. Literary Press, 2016

The House with the Mansard Roof 

Backwaters Press, 2009

The Sea-Crossing of Saint Brendan

Birch Brook Press, 2008

The Music of Exile

Cloverdale Books, 1994

Seeing in the Dark

Hawkhead Press, 1993

"Matthew Brennan's artful, quiet, well-made poems glare with a bright light, burning moments, intense memories.  One Life is a book that surprises and shines."  

Edward Hirsch

"Brennan is a masterful craftsman and his work [The House with the Mansard Roof] is a gift."

Ted Kooser

"Matthew Brennan's The Sea-Crossing of Saint Brendan offers an invention worthy of Borges [and] is an enchanting tale in which the real and spiritual worlds blend as convincingly as its diverse linguistic elements do."

Timothy Steele

"Skilled in his use of figurative language, rhythm, and tone, Brennan has both a precise eye and an attentive ear.  The Music of Exile is a series of nocturnes whose sustained tonalities linger in a haunting manner."

Darlene Mathis-Eddy

"[in Seeing in the Dark] Brennan speaks with open emotion and gentle music, transmogrifying the quotidian details which anchor his vision into the more elevated realm of verse."

Robert McPhillips



Selected Interviews and Reviews of Poetry

Barry Harris, "Review: One Life by Matthew Brennan." Tipton Poetry Journal 30 (2016): 68-71. Web.

Joe Benevento, "'An Infinite Number of Things': Older Poets and Their Considerable Legacies" [on One Life]. Green Hills Literary Lantern 27 (2016): Web. 

Shawn Bodden, Review of The Light of Common Day.  Green Hills Literary Lantern 23 (2012): Web.

Tory Pearman, "Bringing the Past to Light: Matthew Brennan's The House with the Mansard Roof."  Southern Indiana Review 17.1 (2010): 138-140.

Jerry Bradley, Review of The House with the Mansard Roof. Concho River Review 23.2 (2009): 134-135.

Kara McManus, "A Contemporary Lesson in Medieval Literature" [on The Sea-Crossingof Saint Brendan]. South Carolina Review 41.1 (2008): 202-203.

Review of The Sea-Crossing of Saint Brendan. The Iconoclast 99 (2008): 67.

Kevin Collins, Interview. Westview  28.1 (2008): 4-8.

David Vancil, Interview. Indiana Libraries 26.1 (2006): 4-5.

Darlene Mathis-Eddy, "Night Journeys of the Soul" [on The Music of Exile].  Arts Indiana Nov. 1995: 33. 

Robert McPhillips, "The Year in Poetry, 1993" [on Seeing in the Dark]. Dictionary of LiteraryBiography Yearbook 1994.  Detroit: Gale, 1994. 14-46.

Jean Robertson, "Terre Haute's New Press" [on Seeing in the Dark].  Arts Indiana Sept. 1993: 16.




© Copyright Matthew Brennan