Catherine Pierce is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi and the author of four books of poems: Danger Days (2020); The Tornado Is the World (2016), The Girls of Peculiar (2012), and Famous Last Words (2008), all from Saturnalia Books. Each of her most recent three books won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize; Famous Last Words won the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. A chapbook, Animals of Habit (Kent State University Press), was published in 2004.
Pierce’s poems have been published in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, New England Review, FIELD, Pleiades, Gettysburg Review, and the 2019 and 2021 Pushcart Prize anthologies. Her essays appear in The New York Times, Ecotone, The Rumpus, The Millions, Cincinnati Review, and River Teeth. In 2019, she was named a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow, and in 2022 she was selected as an Academy of American Poets’ Laureate Fellow.
Originally from Delaware, Pierce earned her B.A. from Susquehanna University, her M.F.A. from the Ohio State University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. She is professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.
(photo by Megan Bean / Mississippi State University)