David Caplan

David Caplan

Daisy Deane Frensley Chair in English Literature


Office: DH 258
Phone: 214-768-6135
Email: dcaplan@smu.edu

Educational Background

Ph.D., English, University of Virginia
M.F.A., University of Florida


David Caplan is the Daisy Deane Frensley Chair in English Literature and the author of seven books of literary criticism and poetry. Previously he served as the Charles M. Weis Professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University.

His main research areas are poetry, poetics, and American literature. He has presented his research and given poetry readings in Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Germany, and Portugal, and his scholarship has been translated into French and Urdu. He is a contributing editor to Pleiades and the Virginia Quarterly Review, an Affiliated Researcher (Chercheur Affilié) with the Centre Interdisciplinaire de Poétique Appliquée, and an Affiliated Professor with the University of Haifa. He served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Modern Language Association's Creative Writing Forum, chairing the forum from 2020-2021, and currently serves on the Executive Board of the International Network for the Study of Lyric. He is organizing the SMU Symposium on Poetic Form, scheduled for March 18-19, 2024. More information about it can be found here:



Awards and Distinctions

  • Individual Excellence Award in Criticism, Ohio Arts Council, 2014.

  • Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry, 2012 given by the Virginia Quarterly Review to “Observances,” for the best poem or group of poems the journal.

  • Fulbright Lecturer in American Literature, University of Liège, Fall 2012.

  • National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Fellow in Poetics,

  • Fulbright Lecturer in American Literature, University of Liège, Fall 2004.

Selected Publications

  • American Poetry: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2021).

  • Into My Garden (poems) (Ben Yehuda Press, The Jewish Poetry Project: 2020).

  • On Rhyme (Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2017).

  • Rhyme’s Challenge: Hip Hop, Poetry, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014). 

  • In the World He Created According to His Will (poems) (University of Georgia Press 2010).

  • Poetic Form: An Introduction (Pearson Longman, 2006).

  • Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form (Oxford University Press, 2005; paperback edition, 2006). French edition, Questions de Possibilité, Poésie Contemporaine et Forme Poétique (Liège, Belgium: Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2016).

Caplan co-coedited a special issue of Virginia Quarterly Review devoted to American Poetry (Spring 2012) that was recommended in New York Times, “Whom and What to Read to Make You Like Poetry (and Also Sci-Fi),” and Book Riot, “The Best Books We Read in February.” The 2013 Best American Poetry included two of the poems from the issue and one poem from it was awarded a Pushcart Prize.