Sappho, whom Plato (see Vols. 3 and 4) called "the tenth Muse," was the greatest of the early Greek lyric poets. She was born at Mytilene on Lesbos and was a member---perhaps the head---of a group of women who honored the Muses and Aphrodite. Her family was aristocratic; it is said that she was married and had a daughter. Her brilliant love lyrics, marriage songs, and hymns to the gods are written in Aeolic dialect in many meters, one of which is named for her---the Sapphic. Mostly fragments survive of the nine books she is thought to have authored. Her verse is simple and direct, exquisitely passionate and vivid. Catullus, Ovid, and Swinburne (see Vol. 1) were among the many later poets she influenced.
Anne Carson was born December 16, 1950. Carson is a poet, an essayist, and a classicist. She is the director of the graduate program in Classics at McGill University, where she also teaches Latin and Greek. Carson is perhaps besst know for Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, which won the 1998 QSPELL Prize for Poetry. Carson recently won the 2001 Griffin Poetry Prize for Men in the Off Hours. Carson also won the T.S. Eliot poetry prize for The Beauty of the Husband, the first woman to win the award in its nine-year history. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998 and received a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship in 2000. Carson is the author of seven books.