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Leonard Edward Nathan Edit Profile

linguist , translator

Leonard Edward Nathan, American Writer, educator. Recipient Phelan award, 1955; Longview prize, 1961; award in literature National Institute Arts and Letters, 1971; Poetry medal Commonwealth Club, 1976,81; University of California Creative Arts fellow, 1961-1962, 73-74; University of California Humanities research fellow, 1983-1984; American Institute Indian Studies fellow, 1966-1967; Guggenheim fellow, 1976-1977.


Nathan, Leonard Edward was born on November 8, 1924 in Los Angeles, California, United States. Son of Israel and Florence (Rosenberg) Nathan.


Student, Georgia Technology, 1943-1944;student, University of California at Los Angeles, 1946-1947;Bachelor summa cum laude, University of California-Berkeley, 1950;Master of Arts, University of California-Berkeley, 1952;Doctor of Philosophy, University of California-Berkeley, 1961.


He was then hired as a lecturer in UC Berkeley's Department of Speech, and was promoted to associate professor in 1965 and to professor in 1968. His poems were also published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, New England Review and The Georgia Review, among other publications. The author of 17 volumes of poetry, Nathan has been described as "a fixture for 50 years in literary circles both on and off the UC Berkeley campus." Ted Kooser, a recent U.S. poet laureate and an English professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, counted Nathan among his mentors, particularly for his "economy of words." "He was among the finest poets of his generation and will be missed by all of us who practice the art", said Kooser, who struck up a correspondence with Nathan in the 1970s after complimenting Nathan on a poem he had seen in a magazine.

Nathan's first book of poems, Western Reaches, brims with images of the California landscape. After a year in India, he published a book about his experiences there titled, The Likeness: Poems out of India. His prose included Diary of a Left-Handed Bird Watcher and The Poet's Work, an Introduction to Czesław Miłosz.

He also collaborated on a number of translations, most notably with Milosz on the poems of Anna Swir and Aleksander Wat. Nathan died in Marin, California in 2007.


  • Among other honors, he received the National Institute of Arts and Letters prize for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Phelan Award for Narrative Poetry, and three silver medals from the Commonwealth Club of California, including one for The Potato Eaters. That same year, Princeton University Press published Nathan's Returning Your Call, which was nominated for a National Book Award.



Quotations: "He was among the finest poets of his generation and will be missed by all of us who practice the art".


With United States Army, 1943-1945, European Theatre of Operations. Member Association of Literature Scholars and Critics.


  • Other Interests

    Avocation: birdwatching.


Married Carol Gretchen Nash, June 27, 1949. Children: Andrew Peter, Julia Irene, Miriam Abigail.

Israel Nathan

Florence (Rosenberg) Nathan

Carol Gretchen Nash

Andrew Peter Nathan

Julia Irene Nathan

Miriam Abigail Nathan