Jean Nordhaus was born in Baltimore, Maryland and received a BA in Philosophy from Barnard College and a PhD in German Literature from Yale University. She moved to Washington in 1964 and became engaged with the DC poetry community in the early 70’s, while teaching English at what was then Federal City College (today UDC.) She co-founded a critique group on the Hill, the Capitol Hill Poetry Group and started attending readings at the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library. (Stanley Kunitz was Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress at that time and lived during his tenure in a townhouse on 4th Street, SE.) In the late 70’s Nordhaus became Dance Editor of The Washington Review of the Arts (Bernard Welt was the Poetry Editor) and soon after began writing dance reviews for the Washington Post.
From 1980-83, and again for a year during the 1991-92 season, she served as Poetry Coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library. During her tenure, the Folger started a second lunchtime poetry series called the Moveable Muse, with weekly readings at alternating downtown locations: the Renwick Gallery, the Phillips Collection, and other venues. She also published a monthly listing of poetry events and news called the Poetry Clearinghouse. While at the Folger, she organized a 2-day conference on the translation of poetry featuring George Steiner as the keynote speaker and coordinated the PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction during its first year in Washington.
Her first full-length collection, A Bracelet of Lies, was published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House in 1987. She served as president of the cooperative press for 6 years, from 1988-94. In 2010, she became Review Editor for Poet Lore. Her other books include:
Innocence, (Ohio State University Press, November 2006), winner of the Charles B. Wheeler Award
The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn, an extended biography in verse of the 18th century German-Jewish philosopher (Milkweed Editions, 2002)
A Purchase of Porcelain, Kinloch Rivers Chapbook Contest Winner, Published by the Poetry Society of South Carolina, 1998.
My Life in Hiding, (Quarterly Review of Literature, Volume XXX, 1991), winner of Colladay Prize.
A Language of Hands, (chapbook) SCOP Publications, 1982 ISBN 0-930526-05-8 $3.50, out of print, although I have a few copies.
In translation: The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn, tr. Moshe Dor, Carmel Publications, Israel, 1996. Her work has been published in numerous journals, including Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, and the New Republic; and in anthologies including Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prize Anthology and The Other Side of the Hill I and II.
Beltway Poetry Quarterly, 5 poems, Volume 5:2, Spring 2004: http://washingtonart.com/beltway/nordhaus.html
Written by Jean Nordhaus in 2013