Max Ritvo was the author of the poetry collection Four Reincarnations and the chapbook AEONS, for which he was awarded a 2014 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. The critic Helen Vendler has said, “The distinguishing quality of a Max Ritvo poem is a leap from the literal to the fanciful, from the pedestrian to the performative.”
Our girls are dying on the roadsides,
their wombs pried open by the scramble that grows inside.
– from 'The TV Then Spoke of a Plague Afflicting the Machines'
In an interview for Divedapper, Ritvo said, "Poetry can never just be purely the language. There's motion and function in it." In Ritvo's own poetry, Helen Vendler noted the ever-present "unforeseen volley of sparks – some tragic, some comic."
Don't buy a book. Don't go to bed early.
Seek out beige, in foodstuffs and landscapes.
Chew gum if you're overwhelmed.
You're in this alone. That means there's nobody to stop you.
You're almost at the finish line.
But first, you have to pick a finish line.
– from 'The Soundscape of Life Is Charred by Tiny Bonfires'
Ritvo earned his MFA from Columbia University and his BA from Yale University. He was a poetry editor at Parnassus: Poetry in Review and a teaching fellow at Columbia University. His poetry appeared in Poetry, the Boston Review, the New Yorker, and on Poets.org. His prose and interviews have appeared in the Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Review of Books. His radio appearances include NPR's Only Human, The New Yorker Radio Hour, and The Dr. Drew Podcast. A book of correspondence between Ritvo and the celebrated playwright Sarah Ruhl is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2018.
Four Reincarnations, Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, 2016
Aeons (chapbook), Poetry Society of America, New York, 2015
Alexander and the Moon: A Storybook, with artwork by Ngozi Ukazu, Autumn Von Plinsky, and Ellen Su, LuLu, 2010
Max Ritvo's website
"Zoo" by Max Ritvo
Max Ritvo reads "The Big Loser"
Max Ritvo reads "Dawn of Man"
The editors of POETRY discuss poems by Max Ritvo and more
Don Share introduces a portfolio of poems by Max Ritvo
Poetry Off the Shelf: The Poets We Lost in 2016
Divedapper interview with Max Ritvo
Helen Vendler reviews Max Ritvo's Four Reincarnations
Max Ritvo on the WNYC podcast Only Human: The Prank Your Body Plays on Life