Michael Dennis Browne came to the United States in 1965 from England, where he was born, of mostly Irish ancestry, in 1940. After graduating from the University of Iowa, he taught at Iowa, Columbia, Bennington, and the University of Minnesota. He is now a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, where he taught for thirty-nine years, served a term as director of the creative writing program, and was a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He teaches a workshop (“Believing in Writing”) each summer at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and frequently at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in Iowa City.
His most recent publications include Give Her the River, a picture book with paintings by Wendell Minor (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004); Things I Can’t Tell You, poetry (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005); What the Poem Wants, essays on poetry (Carnegie Mellon, 2008). Browne’s poems have been published in many magazines and anthologies, and his awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. Two of his collections have won the Minnesota Book Award for poetry. A new collection of poems, The Voices, will be published by Carnegie Mellon in the fall of 2013.
As a librettist, he has written many texts for music, working principally with composer Stephen Paulus. Their post-Holocaust oratorio, To Be Certain of the Dawn, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in music by the Minnesota Orchestra. His latest collaboration with Paulus, The Shoemaker, a church opera based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, will have its first performances at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis on September 29 and 30. Other composers he has worked with include John Foley S.J., David Lord, Carolyn Jennings, Juliana Hall, Stanford Scriven, John Armstrong, Donald Krubsack, and Craig Hella Johnson.
He lives in Minneapolis and is married to Lisa McLean; their children are Peter, Mary, and Nellie.