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I was born in London and grew up in England's concreted-over heart, the suburbs south-east of the capital. I was educated at Oxford, where I read English at Magdalen College and was an editor of Oxford Poetry. I came to the United States as a Harkness Fellow (UK equivalent of Rhodes Scholarship). While living in New York, I wrote a doctoral thesis on the poetry of W. H. Auden. I also worked as a freelance writer and as an editor at ARTnews magazine. Subsequently I taught English at Harvard University for two years and now teach in Stanford University's English Department.

My book entitled The Island: W.H. Auden and the Regeneration of England will appear in 2008, the first year of the second century after Auden's birth. A further volume, tentatively titled Manhattan Transfer: W. H. Auden and the Last of England, will be issued approximately a year later. I am also currently completing a critical edition of Auden's book The Double Man (1941).

My subsequent book, "Running on the Waves" will be a study of the ocean and mid-century American culture, including poetry, fiction, painting and film. An extract from the project, "'Running on the Waves': Pollock, Lowell, Bishop and the American Ocean" was published in the April 2007 issue of the Yale Review.

My essays and reviews include contributions to the London Review of Books, the New Republic, the TLS, the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the Yale Review, Raritan, Notes and Queries and Vogue.

With Katherine Bucknell, I am the co-editor of the "Auden Studies" series (Oxford University Press), as well as being the editor of Alan Ansen's The Table-Talk of W. H. Auden, and the co-chair of the W. H. Auden Society.

I am also the Series Editor of the Princeton University Press translation series "Facing Pages", which most recently published Landscape with Rowers, English versions of modern Dutch poetry made by J. M. Coetzee, After Every War, translations by Eavan Boland from the German of 20th-century women poets, and a translation by Forrest Gander and Kent Johnson of Jaime Saenz's The Night. Volumes in preparation include translations by Susan Stewart of the Italian poet Alda Merini's poems and by Paul Muldoon of 18th century Gaelic poetry from Ireland.

In 2007 Langdon Hammer, Ellen Bryant Voigt and I were the judges who awarded the Bollingen Prize for Poetry to Frank Bidart.

In addition to the Commonwealth Fund (Harkness Fellowship), I have held fellowships from the ACLS and the Stanford Humanities Center. I act as literary executor of the papers and copyrights of the scholar, critic, poet, and ballet- impresario Lincoln Kirstein, who was one of W. H. Auden's closest friends in New York for over 30 years.

My wife, Siri Huntoon, and I live with our sons, Hugo and Owen, in a house with a single glass wall in Mountain View, California, home-town of the world's No. 1 research-tool, Google.