"Leah Souffrant, with laudably quiet gestures, reaches lyrically into literature's silent places to delineate the thermodynamics of the lacuna. Working the pauses, she does a Duras: nimble, stunned, alert. Hats off to Souffrant for the elliptical beauty she unearths and ̶ with interpretive deftness ̶ performs!"
̶ Wayne Koestenbaum
Read Leah Souffrant's translation of Louise Labé's Sonnet II in Interim, Vol. 34, Issue 3.
In Jacket2, find the essay review of Andrew Davis's translation of Osip Mandelstam: 'Like a postponed present': Reading reality in Mandelstam's 'Voronezh Notebooks' by Leah Souffrant
Leah Souffrant’s work involves poetics, translation, and studies in literature, feminist theory, ethics, and aesthetics.
Recent projects include investigations of the relationship between aesthetics of the unsayable and representations of pain, loss, and trauma in 20th century literary and visual culture; analyses of the poetics of motherhood; and a range of studies of the relationship between forms of silence and communication of difficult material, in theory, performance, poetry, and all stretches between.
Dr. Souffrant holds a Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and a B.A. in Russian Literature from Vassar College. She studied briefly at St. Petersburg State University in Russia.
Souffrant was selected to be a Catwalk Institute Artist-in-Residence and has been recognized as a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellow in Poetry.
Souffrant’s Commentary series “A slowing: Poetics and attention” appears on Jacket2 in interlocking essayistic installments.
A consideration of formal aesthetics of silence can be found in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal in her article “Look at the Wall: Reading the Unsayable in Duras and Carson,” available here. Some of Souffrant’s work investigating the relationship between experimental poetics and writing motherhood, “Mother Delivers Experiment: Poetry of Motherhood: Plath, Derricotte, Zucker, and Holbrook” appears in WSQ Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her doctoral dissertation was awarded the Nina Fortin Dissertation Proposal Award by the Center for the Study of Women & Society.
She is developing a series of poetic transcreations of the work of Renaissance poet Louise Labé, from the French. Her translation from the Russian of Marina Tsvetaeva’s “Poem of the End” is unpublished. She is currently editing a collection of critical essays by poet Meena Alexander. Souffrant's review of the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971 was printed in the Poetry Project Newsletter.
Poetry and criticism by Souffrant can be found in literary journals, scholarly reviews, and print anthologies.
"Reading Simone Weil" in Bone Bouquet
"Not to Walk" in Poet Lore
“In Praise of Unknowing” at EOAGH
“A conception is a motion” in Far From the Centers of Ambition, Lorimer Press
“Long Short Talk on My Black Mountain, Which is Invisible” in Far From the Centers of Ambition, Lorimer Press
“Imperfect Plenty” in Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days, University of Iowa Press
“Lucrece in Translation: Analysis of Progressive Silence” in Anamesa Literary Journal
“Heard the unspoken words” in Tygerburning Literary Journal
“Language about language” in Tygerburning Literary Journal
“Untitled (or It was/By the water)” in the Burnside Review
“It’s only when I look at trees” in Memorious
Additional works have appeared at Delirious Hem, Poet Lore, Poets & Writers online, Weber, and elsewhere.
Selected Collaborations and Performances:
Staging of Sylvia Plath’s radio play “Three Women,” developed in collaboration with Karinne Keithley
Composition and performance of song series by Stefan Feingold, Swiss composer and classical guitarist
Performance and workshopping of Staging Elizabeth Bishop’s Letters
Work featured in Dome Poem NC by Lee Ann Brown and Tony Torn
Co-editor of Four Corners literary journal 2005-2007
Epistolary poetics with Canadian-based poet and performer Abby Paige
Souffrant’s artist book Essay for Elsa: somersaults exhibited in the A.I.R. Gallery, Dumbo, Brooklyn
Reading from “Entangled with texts: Poems” in Jane’s Reading List: Jane Marcus Feminist University, The Graduate Center, CUNY September 2016
Follow online projects including Tumblr: Poems I’m Not Going To Write
Since 2013, Souffrant has been faculty at New York University, where she has received the Teaching Award of Excellence. Souffrant teaches Expository Writing and serves as a mentor of undergraduate Writing Tutors.
For nearly a decade, Souffrant taught at Baruch College - CUNY. She has also taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and St. John’s University. Her courses have been in areas including surveys of world literature, Great Works of Literature, topics in literature by women, surveys and topics in American Literature, and composition.
She served as founding co-chair of the Poetics Group at the Graduate Center, CUNY, organizing interdisciplinary critical-creative events for the doctoral community and beyond.
Souffrant has worked in the field of grants administration at private family foundations and non-profit grantmaking institutions.
To contact Leah Souffrant regarding her work, please email her here.