Gjertrud Schnackenberg is a major voice in American poetry known for the sensuous richness of her imaginatively daring poetry of ideas. Her first new book for a decade, Heavenly Questions is a setting of six long poems of passion, mourning and redemption. Shifting effortlessly between the lyric and the epic, it is her most deeply compassionate and strikingly personal book of poetry as well as a powerful work of intellectual, aesthetic and technical innovation
Schnackenberg graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1975. She lectured at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington University, and was Writer-in-Residence at Smith College and visiting fellow at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, in 1997.
The Throne of Labdacus, one of Schnackenberg's six books of poetry, focuses on the myth of Oedipus and the stories of ancient Greece. In A Gilded Lapse of Time she devotes a section to the life, poetry, and death of Dante. Schnackenberg has received the Rome Prize in Creative Literature from the American Academy in Rome and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin. She has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1987 she received a Guggenheim grant. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1996. In 1997, she was the Christensen Visiting Fellow at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, and in 2000 she was a Visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities. She won an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998, and in 2001 she won the LA Times Book Prize in Poetry for The Throne of Labdacus. In 2011, she won the Griffin Poetry Prize (worth CDN $65,000) for Heavenly Questions.
Schnackenberg was married to the American philosopher Robert Nozick until his death in 2002.