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Paul Christensen is widely recognized as a major critic of contemporary literature. He is a distinguished memoirist and poet. His books cover a wide range of interests, from other writers to his own experiences living and teaching in Texas, as well as seven book-length collections of poems and several hundred published essays. His literary work includes two acclaimed critical biographies of the poets Charles Olson and Clayton Eshleman, an edition of the letters of Charles and Edward Dahlberg, a memoir of his life in Texas called West of the American Dream: An Encounter with Texas. Among his award-winning books of poems are Signs of the Whelming, Blue Alleys: Prose Poems and The Mottled Air (the last two were recipients of the Violet Crown Award from the Writers' League of Texas), and Hard Country; a collection of essays co-edited with Rick Bass, Falling From Grace in Texas, and personal essays touching on many aspects of his residence abroad with his family during the Cold War, as well as numerous articles on modern writers and literary movements.

His short stories have appeared in many national journals and received honors from the Texas Institute of Letters and other professional literary organizations. He teaches modern literature and creative writing at Texas A&M University and lives part of the year in southern France. He is a contributing editor on French culture to the journal France Today and writes frequently for the political weekly, The Texas Observer. He was a NEA poetry fellow in 1991 and has twice been appointed a senior lecturer by the Fulbright Commission. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

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