J. D. McClatchy is the author of six collections of poems: Scenes From Another Life (Braziller, 1981), Stars Principal (Macmillan, 1986), The Rest of the Way (Knopf, 1990), Ten Commandments (Knopf, 1998), Hazmat (Knopf, 2002, a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award), and Mercury Dressing (Knopf , 2009, winner of the 2010 Ambassador Book Award). His selected poems, entitled Division of Spoils (Arc), appeared in England in 2003. His literary essays are collected in White Paper (Columbia, 1989), which was given the Melville Cane Award by the Poetry Society of America, in Twenty Questions (Columbia, 1998), and in American Writers at Home (Vendome/Library of America, 2004). His verse translation, Seven Mozart Librettos, was published by W. W. Norton in 2010 to great acclaim. He has also edited many other books, including The Whole Difference: Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Princeton, 2008), The Four Seasons (Knopf, 2008), James Merrill’s Selected Poems (Knopf, 2008), Thornton Wilder’s Collected Plays & Writings on Theater (Library of America, 2007),Poets of the Civil War (Library of America, 2005), James Merrill’s Collected Prose (Knopf, 2004), Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Selected Poems (Library of America, 2003),Horace: The Odes (Princeton University Press, 2002), James Merrill’s Collected Novels and Plays (Knopf, 2002), Bright Pages: Yale Writers 1701-2001 (Yale University Press, 2001), James Merrill’s Collected Poems (Knopf, 2001), Poems of the Sea (Knopf, 2001), Love Speaks Its Name (Knopf, 2001), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Poetry and Other Writings (Library of America, 2000),On Wings of Song: Poems about Birds (Knopf, 2000), Christmas Poems (Knopf, 1999),The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry (Vintage, 1996), Woman in White: Poems by Emily Dickinson (Folio Society, 1991), The Vintage Books of Contemporary American Poetry (Vintage, 1990; 2nd edition, 2003), Poets on Painters (California, 1988), Recitative: Prose by James Merrill (North Point, 1986), and Anne Sexton: The Poet and Her Critics (Indiana, 1978), along with translations of The Magic Flute and Carmen (Abbeville, 2000, 2001). His Seven Mozart Librettos appeared last year from Norton. For Random House, he also edited the acclaimed Voice of the Poet series of audiobooks, which includes the work of nineteen poets. He has also published fiction and translations. His work appears regularly in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The New Republic, and many other magazines.
Mr. McClatchy has had a busy academic life as well, and for many years taught at Princeton, Columbia, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, and other universities. He now teaches at Yale, where he is a Professor of English, and since 1991 has served as editor of The Yale Review. In addition, he has a prominent role in the opera house as a librettist; he has written thirteen libretti--for William Schuman's A Question of Taste, commissioned and premiered by the Glimmerglass Opera Theater in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1989, the next year produced at Lincoln Center by the Juilliard Opera Center, and recorded on Delos DE1030; for Francis Thorne's Mario and the Magician, given its world premiere in 1994 by the Brooklyn College Opera Theater, and given a new production in 2005 by the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, recorded for Albany Records, Troy 832; for Bruce Saylor's Orpheus Descending, based on the Tennessee Williams play, commissioned by the Chicago Lyric Opera, premiered there in 1994, and subsequently broadcast on NPR’s “World of Opera,” and revived in a new production at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, 2006; for Tobias Picker's Emmeline, commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, premiered there in 1996, subsequently telecast on PBS’s “Great Performances,” revived at the New York City Opera in 1998, recorded on the Albany label, Troy 264-65, and with subsequent productions in New York, California, and Budapest, where is was broadcast on Hungarian state radio; for Lorin Maazel’s 1984 (co-written with Thomas Meehan), premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, May 3, 2005, with subsequent performances at La Scala, Milan in 2008, and Valencia, Spain, 2011; for Ned Rorem’s Our Town, co-commissioned by several houses, premiered at the Indiana University School of Music in February, 2006, with subsequent productions in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado, New York, Washington, D.C., Minnesota, Missouri, Idaho, Texas, and elsewhere; for Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts, commissioned by the Juilliard School of Music for its 100th anniversary, premiered there in April, 2006, with subsequent performances in Los Angeles and Cincinnati; for Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel (co-written with Julie Taymor), premiered at the Los Angeles Opera in May, 2006, with additional performances at the Lincoln Center Festival in July, 2006; for Michael Dellaira’s The Secret Agent, commissioned by the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, premiered in New York in 2011, with subsequent performances in Hungary, videotaped for broadcast in Europe; for Bernard Rands’s Vincent, commissioned for the 100th anniversary of Indiana University’s School of Music, premiered in Bloomington, 2011.
He wrote the supertitles for the Julie Taymor production of The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004, and has written a new singing translation of that opera for the Metropolitan, produced there in December, 2006, broadcast live to movie theatres around the world, and subsequently aired on PBS’s Great Performances; it will be performed every other season at the Met, beginning in 2008; it is available on The Metropolitan Opera’s DVD series, 81135701197-3, and was broadcast on the Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network on December 27, 2008. In coming years, the Metropolitan will also mount his new singing translations The Bartered Bride and The Barber of Seville. He has written narrations for performances by The New York Philharmonic and The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras, and also written the supertitles for the Metropolitan Opera’s productions of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut (2008, DVD EMIS0999 2 17420 9 5)), Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust (2008) and La Sonnambula (2009, DVD B0013885-09), Hamlet (2010), Le Comte Ory (2011), and Anna Bolena (2011). New projects include Little Nemo in Slumberland with Daron Hagen, commissioned by Sarasota Opera and to be premiered there in 2012; An Inconvenient Truth with composer Giorgio Battistelli, commissioned by Teatro alla Scala and scheduled to premiere there in 2013; a new opera, Dolores Claiborne, with composer Tobias Picker for the San Francisco Opera, 2013.
He has served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 1998 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the following year was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He currently serves as the Academy’s President. In 2000 he was awarded the Governor’s Arts Medal by the State of Connecticut. Among his other honors, Mr. McClatchy has been awarded the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. When he was given an Award in Literature by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1991, the citation read: "J. D. McClatchy is a poet who has emerged into highly distinctive achievement in his third collection, The Rest of the Way. Formally a master, with enormous technical skills, McClatchy writes with an authentic blend of cognitive force and a savage emotional intensity, brilliantly restrained by his care for firm rhetorical control. His increasingly complex sense of our historical overdeterminations is complemented by his concern for adjusting the balance between his own poems and tradition. It may be that no more eloquent poet will emerge in his American generation."
He lives in Stonington, Connecticut.