Karen Hildebrand


Brooklyn, NY
New York US

Author's Bio

Crossing Pleasure Avenue (Indolent Books 2018) was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle 2019 John Leonard Award for Best First Book. My poetry has been adapted for a play, "The Old In and Out," produced in NYC in 2009 and 2013. In 2017, I collaborated with poet Julie Bruck to edit a posthumous collection of work by Jane Underwood, founder of The Writing Salon in San Francisco: When My Heart Goes Dark, I Turn the Porchlight On (Blue Light Press, 2017). Recent work appears in Scoundrel Time, South Florida Poetry Journal, No Dear, Poetry Bay, Quarter After Eight, Trailer Park Quarterly, Maintenant, and Welcome to the Resistance: Poetry as Protest.  I've been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, was a finalist for the 2017 Disquiet Literary Prize and my prose poem, "To the Rescue" took third place in the Quarter After Eight Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest. Based in NYC, I've worked as a magazine writer and editor for 25 years, most recently as editor in chief of Dance Teacher magazine, and founding editor of Dance Business Weekly. In 2020, I received the Dance Teacher Award from Dance Media Publications. I hold an MFA from the Program for Writers of Warren Wilson College.

“'We take our pleasure as we can,' Karen Hildebrand writes in the title poem to Crossing Pleasure Avenue, in a voice filled with desire tempered by loss. And there is much pleasure in this book of terse lyrics that engages the reader with humor, brio, and bite, in poems about everything from the 60’s TV show Leave It to Beaver with a crossdressing Beev, to imagining a year without men, to envisioning widows hijacking the C train. In these wildly imaginative poems, Karen Hildebrand sings the aging woman’s body electric!" —SHARON DOLIN

"Karen Hildebrand’s poetry is like sociology—if sociology could be felt by the hairs on one’s neck and seen in fragrant, Fauvist Technicolor. Her brilliant debut full-length collection, Crossing Pleasure Avenue, reminds us of the strangeness of the everyday and the pleasure in those ripe moments when the past and the present buckle and overlap." —JOANNA FUHRMAN

"Only Karen Hildebrand could write an ode to toilets of the world called “Dear John”; “A History of Feminism” that includes a bucket list; “The Sixties, Explained” via beloved TV shows; “Ode to My Bunion”; and “The Day the Widows Hijack the C Train.” From “moonshine ranch wives” to Emily Dickinson and her fruitcake to a “Femme Fatale,” Hildebrand honors the women who have come before and the women who we are. She is funny, fervent, and fierce. Crossing Pleasure Avenue is delightfully profound. I’d take a walk with her poetry any day!" —DENISE DUHAMEL


Publications & Prizes

Crossing Pleasure Avenue (Indolent Books, 2018)

Personal Favorites

Favorite authors: 
Claire Messud, John McPhee, CD Wright, Mary Ruefle, Srikanth Reddy, Tomas Transtromer
What I'm reading now: 
Evening Train by Denise Levertov, Circle by Victoria Chang

More Information

Gives readings: 
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Born in: 
Denver, CO
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Last update: Apr 16, 2022