Cory Brown

Cory Brown

Associate Professor, Department of Writing
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences
Faculty, Honors Program

Specialty:Poetry Writing
Phone:(607) 274-3493
Office:419 Smiddy Hall
Ithaca, NY 14850

I grew up in a small town on the plains of western Oklahoma near the banks of the Canadian River, near where my father's parents and grandparents homesteaded early in the last century. Winters are cold and dry there, but relatively short; springs are exciting with their new growth and the frequent tornadic eruptions; summers hot and dry of course, but the evening sunsets are spectacular, as if painted by an overzealous child artist; and autumns, once past the heat of summer, are long and mild--every season lots of sun, breath-taking winds, and of course enormous skies.

I took a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Oklahoma State University in '79 and then worked odd jobs for a while--dishwasher, waiter, liquor store manager, social services secretary in Boulder, Colorado--before returning to school to study more literature, philosophy, and creative writing. But that took a while too, before providing a settled life, a year in this graduate school, another in that. Then came Ithaca and I fell in love with it, particularly with the M.F.A. program at Cornell, happy to be studying with Archie Ammons and Robert Morgan. I taught at Cornell for two more years after graduation and then roamed around the Northeast teaching at Hudson Valley community colleges and then at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute--before coming back to Ithaca to take a position in the Writing Program here and settle down with my family. I'm proud to have been a part of our faculty in the 90s that molded a bona fide Department from our Program, and to now offer a B.A. as interesting and varied in its offerings as ours is.

I've discovered over the years that my ultimate goal in teaching is to instill in my students an intellectual generosity, I would like to think primarily by modeling it, to be less interested in espousing knowledge than in encouraging a particular attitude toward knowledge, expansive and open-armed. I've taught a variety of courses: a freshman seminar on the philosophy and science of sex and love; personal essay writing; poetry writing; a 300-level Poetics course that covers the history of ideas from Thales to Foucault through the lens of creative writing theory; a senior seminar workshop on the practice, history, and theory of traditional poetry forms; and three honors seminars, one on the philosophy of sex and love, another on the pursuit of happiness, and another on Western concepts of the self since the Renaissance.

I'm writing and publishing mostly essays these past few months, most recently (fall '16) an autobiographical essay in Journal of Narrative Politics. Appearing a few weeks earlier was an epilogue to Narrative Global Politics: Theory, History and the Personal in International Relations, and a few weeks before that "Thoughts on the Metaphysics of American White Racism" in Journal of Narrative Politics. In 2013 my personal essay "Compliance" appeared in South Loop Review and was a top-three finalist in Missouri Review's 2013 essay contest. 

My most recent collection of poems, What May Be Lost, is from Cayuga Lake Books (2014). A previous collection--Poems 1986-1998--is from Water Street Press, and my first collection, A Warm Trend, from Swallow's Tale Press, which won a national manuscript competition in 1989. Among other journals, my poems have appeared in Bomb, The Chattahoochee Review, West Branch, Northwest Review, Postmodern CultureThe Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, The Pedestal, Rosebud, Nimrod International Journal, and Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics




  • poetry writing

  • essay writing

  • literary and creative writing theory

  • intellectual history


  • M.F.A. Poetry, Cornell University, 1984

  • B.A. English and Philosophy, Oklahoma State University, 1979


Poetry Books

  • What May Be Lost, Cayuga Lake Books. 2014.
  • Poems 1986-1998, Water Street Press. 2003. [contains over sixty poems published in literary magazines]
  • A Warm Trend, poems, Swallow's Tale Press, winner of their national poetry manuscript contest. 1989.      


Recent Journal Publications





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