Lew Klatt

Dr. Lew Klatt


Professor Klatt received a bachelor of arts in English from Wittenberg University in 1984 and a masters of divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1991. He then went on to earn a masters of arts in liberal arts from St. John’s College in 1998. He received his PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2003 with the dissertation topic, “The God is Blue: a Collection of Original Poems with a Manifesto.” He taught in the English department at Calvin College from 2004 to 2006 and returned again to teach in 2007.


Professor Klatt is the author of four collections of poems, including Cloud of Ink, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, and Interloper, winner of the Juniper Prize for poetry. His poems have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, among them The New Yorker, Harvard Review, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Daily, The Believer, Best American Poetry, Image, The Southern Review, Boston Review, Blackbird, and VOLT 

His poetry has inspired several artistic collaborations. “Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91” was made into a 90-second animated movie by MotionPoems; “American Concrete” was solicited by New York magazine Surface for a photo essay celebrating architectural innovation in Detroit; and “The Cardboard Fawn” appeared on placards as part of a traveling show on buses in Grand Rapids, where Klatt served as poet laureate. 

Besides his creative work, he has also published essays on poets, most notably “The Electric Whitman” in The Southern Review and “Blue Buzz, Blue Guitar: Wallace Stevens and the Poetics of Noisemaking in The Georgia Review. 

He grew up in Cincinnati and found his way to Boston, Pittsburgh, Annapolis, Athens (Georgia), and Cortona, Italy, before settling in Michigan.


Professor Klatt has published new poems in The Common, The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review (KR Online), Copper Nickel, Crazyhorse, New American Writing, Carolina Quarterly, Pleiades, and The New Yorker. His poem “Silo” recently was anthologized in Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice. 

In 2020, he was selected to be an Artist Fellow at The Hermitage, an artist retreat near Sarasota. During his sabbatical there, he worked on a new manuscript, Saint with a Peacock Voice, a collection of original poems that reckon with and grow out of Flannery O’Connor’s prose.  

He also just completed an essay on Robert Frost, “See the Snow-White in the White of Frost,” for the The Encounter: A Handbook of Poetic Practice, essays by contemporary poets on their early influences, forthcoming from Free Verse Editions (Parlor Press). 

Professor Klatt has been actively involved in the Honors Program on campus the last few years and continues to tinker with course development. In January 2021, he tried out a new class: Reading/Rewriting Moby Dick.

Favorite Books

  • Paul Auster, Ghosts 
  • Wallace Stevens, Harmonium, The Man with the Blue Guitar 
  • Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon 
  • Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Short Stories 
  • Herodotus, The Histories 

Additional Information

  • Listen to a podcast from The Common, where Professor Klatt is in conversation with poet Oliver de la Paz
  • Read one of his poems in Blackbird, The Michigan Poet, or on the blog “As It Ought To Be
  • Read a micro-essay where Professor Klatt glosses Wallace Stevens’s poem “Of the Surface of Things” for Poetry Daily
  • Here is an interview with Professor Klatt conducted by MLive
  • Read more of Professor Klatt’s poems

Academic interests

  • Creative Writing
  • Modern and Postmodern American Poetry
  • American Literature
  • World Literature
  • Creativity


Selected Interviews

Electric Poetry, “Interview with L. S. Klatt,” interviewed by KT Herr, WYCE, Grand Rapids, April, 2016 (http://www.grcmc.org/node/10580/electric-poetry-l-s-klatt)

Stateside, Interview with L. S. Klatt and Alise Alousi by Cynthia Canty for Michigan Public Radio, April, 2015, Mercedes Mejia, Producer.“ The Common Podcast: Oliver de la Paz and L. S. Klatt in Conversation,” conducted by Steven Tagle for The Common, October 23, 2014 (http://www.thecommononline.org/features/common-podcast-oliver-de-la-paz-and-ls-klatt-conversation)

“Interview: Poet L. S. Klatt Discusses His Work, Crossing the ‘Frontiers of Consciousness,’” conducted by Simon Thalmann for MLive, March 11, 2011 (http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/03/interview_poet_ls_klatt_discus.html)

“Zachary Tomaszewski Interviews L. S. Klatt,” Through The Third Eye, March, 2011 (http://throughthe3rdeye.com/node/765)

Performances or exhibitions

Panel Discussion, “Dwelling: Our Watershed in Words and Images.” Plaster Creek Stewards 10th Anniversary Celebration. Calvin University. Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 2019

Lecture and Workshop, “The God-Pleasing Creative Life.” Calvin Prison Initiative. Handlon Correctional Facility. Ionia, Michigan, July 2019

Talk, “Field Notes.” Honors Convocation. Calvin College. Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 2019

Lecture, “The God-Pleasing Creative Life.” Faculty Exchange. Károli Gáspar University. Budapest, Hungary. October, 2018

Lecture, “The Artifice of Eternity. Notes Toward a Christian Poetics.” Faculty Exchange. Károli Gáspar University. Budapest, Hungary. October, 2018.

Lecture, “The Essential Strangeness of Poetry.” Faculty Exchange. Károli Gáspar University. Budapest, Hungary. October, 2018

Seminar, “Us versus Them in Three Stories by Flannery O’Connor.” Faculty Exchange. Károli Gáspar University. Budapest, Hungary. October, 2018.

Conference Director, Organizer, Facilitator, Editor, “Christian Poetics Symposium.” Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. June, 2018.

Interview, “An Interview with Joy Williams.” Festival of Faith and Writing. Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. April, 2018


  • Artist Fellow, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, Sarasota County, Florida, 2020-2021
  • Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching, 2018
  • Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2014-2017

In the news


Learn more about Calvin's excellent faculty and learning environment by scheduling a campus visit.

Visit »

  • Course code:
  • Credits:
  • Semester:
  • Department: