Although raised among the grand forests of the Pacific Northwest in Puyallup, Washington, it might be easy to assume that Allen Braden belongs to the grand tradition of southern writers. Braden’s reputation as a poet has been growing steadily in the 21st century, but most of his work has so far appeared in magazines and periodicals rather than poetry collections and a look at the names of those magazines betray his origin: Georgia Review, Southern Review and Shenandoah.
What betrays the initial conception of Braden a son of Dixie trafficking in regional poetry, however, are periodicals a broader reach and higher profile like Prairie Schooner and The New Republic. Even more notable was the publication of a certain poem in the winter 2005 edition of Virginia Quarterly Review. That poem, “First Elk, 1939” was chosen for inclusion in the 2005 edition of Best New Poets. In addition to that anthology, Braden’s work has also been featured in Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry and Family Matters: Poems of Our Families.
Braden was poet-in-residence for the Poetry Center as well as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in addition taking a job as instructor at Tacoma Community College. He won the Grolier Poetry Prize and Witness Magazine’s Emerging Writers Prize in addition being honored with a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Braden has since left his home in the Pacific Northwest and relocated to Durham, North Carolina, where he teaches at Duke University. In the early years of the 21st century, Braden has proven to be a writer of wide appeal, with his work featured in numerous literary journals, anthologies and magazines. He has also been a guest reader at universities and conferences across the country, from the University of Washington in Seattle to the University of Florida in Gainesville. Braden’s poems often deal with themes of family, home and loss, and he has built a reputation for creating vivid and moving portraits of the American South. His work has been praised for its deft use of image and metaphor, and he has been credited with a masterful command of the English language. Braden’s writing has earned him numerous accolades, including the 2010 Voertman Poetry Prize and a nomination for the Pushcart Prize.