David Lee Garrison


David Lee Garrison was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1945. He earned his PhD from Johns Hopkins University, taught Spanish and Portuguese at Wright State University from 1979 to 2009, and is now retired. He has published translations of Spanish poets from Lope de Vega to Gloria Fuertes, including collections of Nobel Laureate Vicente Aleixandre (with Willis Barnstone), José Bergamín, and Pedro Salinas.  

Garrison’s poems have appeared widely in journals such as Connecticut Review, Poem, and Rattle, and also in several anthologies. Two poems from his book, Sweeping the Cemetery, were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and one was included in Keillor’s Good Poems, American Places. The title poem from his book, Playing Bach in the DC Metro, was featured by Ted Kooser on his website, American Life in Poetry, and read by “Game of Thrones” star Tara Fitzgerald on the BBC in London. He won the Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry Prize in 2009 and was named Ohio Poet of the Year in 2014. His most recent book is Carpeing the Diem: Poems about High School (Dos Madres).

Garrison has stated about his work, “My main goal is to communicate, so I create poems that are not hard to understand with a first reading.  My poems emerge mainly from memories, as I fashion bits and pieces of my past into fictionalized configurations in a search for something more meaningful, more transcendent than my personal experience.”

Corey Andrews, in a review of Sweeping the Cemetery in Ohioana Quarterly, states that Garrison’s poetry “explores the nature of reflection and memory, probing the boundaries that separate the living and the dead. The honorable tradition of poetic memento mori is directly addressed by Garrison, serving not only as the title of one of his poems but also as the collection’s thematic core.”

David Lee Garrison lives in Oakwood, Ohio, with his wife, Suzanne Kelly-Garrison, a writer and professor of law at Wright State University.