In her illustrious career which was peppered with numerous literary awards for her poetry, May Swenson wrote over fifty poems ranging from clipped and nonchalant ‘Analysis of Baseball’, which quite literally analyses every element of the game, to the sensuous ‘Digging in the Garden of Age I Uncover a Live Root’; from the unsettling ‘His Suicide’ to the witty ‘The James Bond Movie’. Swenson’s poetry is not bound and confined by either genre or form.
Swenson was heralded as “a visionary poet, a prodigious observer of the fragile and miraculous natural world" by Priscilla Long in Women's Review of Books. But Swenson’s poetry were not only vital in 20th century United States but continues to be part of contemporary literature. One of the bestselling author of 21st century, Stephenie Meyer used Swenson’s poem ‘Question’ in her novel The Host. Intriguingly according to poet Grace Schulman “Questions are the wellspring of May Swenson’s art”. She further remarks that “In her speculations and her close observations, she fulfills Marianne Moore‘s formula for the working artist: ‘Curiosity, observation, and a great deal of joy in the thing.'"
For her poetry, Swenson has won numerous awards, including but not limited to the Longview Foundation Award in 1959, National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in 1960 and Ford Foundation grant in 1964. Her poetry has often been compared to those of poets Gertrude Stein, E. E. Cummings and Elizabeth Bishop.